Reinstallation Marks the 25th Anniversary of the Newark Museum’s Korean Galleries

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Newark Museum celebrates the silver anniversary of its Korean galleries in October with reinstallation and new exhibition.

Imperial Helmet with Phoenix Finial Korea, 1905, Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) Wool, fur, jade, amber, gilt bronze, silver Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Edward Henry Harriman, 1934 34.229A-F

At a time when most institutions are just beginning to create Korean art galleries, the Newark Museum remains ahead of the curve - Steven Kern, Director and CEO of the Newark Museum.

The Newark Museum is celebrating the silver anniversary of its Korean Galleries with a reinstallation of the gallery space. Korea, Land of the Diamond Mountains, which opens October 1, 2014, will feature 60 works that represent the Museum’s holdings of nearly 500 Korean objects, with additional objects on loan from private collections.

The Museum has being collecting Korean art since its founding in 1909, displaying special exhibitions featuring Korean art throughout its history. In 1989, the Museum established a dedicated gallery space to feature Korean art — one of the earliest institutions in the West to do so.

“At a time when most institutions are just beginning to create Korean art galleries, the Newark Museum remains ahead of the curve, already reaching this significant milestone of a silver anniversary, 25 years dedicated to continually exhibiting Korean art,” said Steven Kern, Director and CEO of the Newark Museum.

The reinstalled galleries will showcase works ranging from 57 BCE to the present day. The exhibition will be arranged thematically to explore different elements of ritual life - from Buddhist to Confucian ritual objects. Shamanic as well as courtly works of art and also including works of contemporary art.

Korea, Land of the Diamond Mountain will feature gilded wooden sculptures and brightly colored paintings that reveal a distinctly Korean Buddhist art. Ink wash paintings and ceramics and ritual furniture elevate dignified Confucian aesthetics. Polychrome figures of Korean officials riding tigers and horses guide souls in the afterlife, elements of shamanic practice. Also featured are jade-like celadon ceramics delicately inlaid with black and white slip representing the refined taste and skill of potters of the Goryeo Period (918-1392). Chalices formed from high-fired stoneware during the Gaya and Silla (57 BCE-935 CE) periods that reference Buddhist and earlier burial practices will also be displayed.

“The Diamond Mountains (located in present-day North Korea) are among the most dramatic formations of granite mountain chains that comprise the Korean peninsula. The power and majesty of Korean art is a fascinating reflection of the dramatic land from which it hails,” said Katherine Anne Paul, Ph.D., Curator of the Arts of Asia.

Contemporary ritual life in Korea features a thriving art scene. Many present-day Korean artists employ cutting-edge sensibilities and technologies reflecting and inspiring the power-house of today’s Korean art and industry. For example, mechanized sculptures by Uram Choe possess a lyrical and contemplative quality that is rare in 21st century art.

Also on view
Enriching the Korean Collection will be a special, temporary jewel-box exhibition featuring distinctive donations ranging from imperial gold and jade ceremonial adornment to modern prints and refined embroidery. This exhibition honors generous benefactors to the Korean Collection.

The Museum also will release its first catalogue solely devoted to the Museum’s Korean Collection. The catalogue will showcase and examine highlights of the Museum’s holdings. Funded by the National Museum of Korea and researched with the support of curators from the National Museum of Korea (Lee Jaejeong, Moon Dongsoo and Kang Kyungnam) as well as Seoul National University Professor Chang Chin-Sung and independent curator Lee Hyelin, the publication celebrates a history of collecting and exhibiting Korean art at the Museum.

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The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington Street in the heart of the Downtown/Arts District of Newark, New Jersey, between the Rutgers Newark Campus and NJPAC. The Newark Museum is 10 miles west of New York City and easily accessible by NJ Transit and PATH. The Museum is open all year round: Wednesdays through Sundays, from Noon – 5:00 p.m. Suggested Museum admission: Adults, $12.00; Children, Seniors and Students with valid I.D., $7.00. Newark Residents and Members are admitted free. The Museum Café is open for lunches Wednesday through Sunday. Convenient parking is available for a fee. The Newark Museum campus, including its collections, facilities, and other resources, is accessible to accommodate the broadest audience possible, including individuals utilizing wheelchairs, with physical impairments, other disabilities, or special needs. For general information, call 973-596-6550 or visit our web site,

Newark Museum, a not-for-profit museum of art, science and education, receives operating support from the City of Newark, the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State — a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the Prudential Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, the Wallace Foundation and other corporations, foundations and individuals. Funds for acquisitions and activities other than operations are provided by members and other contributors.

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Lisa Batitto
Newark Museum
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