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Masterpieces of Korean Art

December 15, 1957 – January 12, 1958
Ground Floor, Central Gallery, Galleries G-8 through G-13

Installation view of Masterpieces of Korean Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gallery Archives

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: 187 objects were selected by a joint Korean and American committee to present a cross section of Korean art from 200 B.C. to about 1900. Included were 8 jeweled crowns, 15 other objects of gold, 10 of stoneware and tile, 23 gilt bronzes, 34 paintings, and 102 ceramics, including examples of Korean celadon. This was the first large exhibition of Korean art to be seen outside the Far East. It was held under the auspices of the government of the Republic of Korea, and organized with the cooperation of the Department of State, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American-Korean Foundation.

Organization: For the first time at the Gallery, a modern innovative installation was prepared by professional designers. Benjamin W. Lawless and Robert B. Widder of the Smithsonian Institution Exhibition Office designed special display islands using black gravel and white marble chips, industrial cork, see-through vitrines, oriental plants, and dramatic lighting. 3 jeweled crowns of the Silla dynasty, unique to Korea, were placed prominently in Gallery G-8 at the end of the Central Gallery, their gold and jade pendants fluttering with tiny concealed fans. Ralph T. Coe and Elise V.H. Ferber, museum curators, were responsible for the exhibition at the Gallery.

Attendance: 43,393

Catalog: Masterpieces of Korean Art. Boston: T.O. Metcalf Co., 1957.

Other Venues: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Seattle Art Museum
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Honolulu Academy of Arts