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Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, today announced the appointment of Hyunsoo Woo to the new position of Associate Curator of Korean Art. Effective January 9, 2006, she becomes the Museum’s first curator specializing in Korean art and one of a small number of curators in the United States to be fully dedicated to this important field.
“Hyunsoo Woo brings her wide range of academic training and institutional experience at an important moment, as the Museum looks forward to future exhibitions, publications and a reinstallation of our Korean collections as part of a wider reinstallation of our collections of Asian art,” said Ms. d’Harnoncourt. “She is a fine young scholar and we are delighted that she will be joining our distinguished East Asian Art Department.”
“As we approach the 10th anniversary of our annual Korean Heritage Weekend in October 2006, when the Museum joins with the greater Philadelphia Korean community to celebrate Korean culture, Ms. Woo will provide a great deal of momentum to building our Korean art program,” added Felice Fischer, The Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art. “She will oversee the Korean galleries, coordinate a catalogue that will survey the Korean collection and she will be an essential part of the East Asian Art Department team.”
“I am deeply honored by this appointment, and eager to work closely with one of the great collections of art in the United States, where Korean art can be seen not only in the context of Asian Art, but also in relation to art from around the world,” said Ms. Woo. Hyunsoo Woo, 36, comes to the Museum from the Japan Society in New York where she joined in 2001 to coordinate the symposium Early Buddhist Art from Korean and Japan and became project director for the exhibition of the same title that followed. Since 2002, she also served as assistant director and most recently as interim director of gallery affairs. She worked closely with Alexandra Munroe, director of the Japan Society until July 2005.
Fluent in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese, Ms. Woo obtained a B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature, and an M.A. in Korean Art History from the prestigious Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, Korea. After moving to the United States in 1996, Ms. Woo was Research Assistant for Korean Art at the Brooklyn Museum from 1997 to 2001, where she surveyed the Korean art collections, prepared regular exhibitions and contributed to the acquisition of Korean art, working with Amy Poster, Curator and Chair, Department of Asian Art. In 1999 she completed her course work at New York University for an M.A. degree in Visual Arts Administration. Ms. Woo was invited in 2002 to be a guest researcher by the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, when the Institute conducted a survey of the Korean art collection of the British Museum. She has also served as a lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1996. Among her numerous publications is an important survey of Korean collections in the United States that appeared in 1997-99 in the Seoul-based Wolgan Misool and focused on the holdings of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, Newark Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
About the Collection of Korean Art at the Philadelphia Museum of ArtThe East Asian Art collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art includes over 10,000 paintings, sculptures, textiles and decorative arts from China, Korea and Japan. The first Korean objects to enter the Museum were three ceramics, donated in1897. Other early acquisitions were made during the first decades of the 20th century. An indirect but intriguing connection to Korean ceramics came in 1917 when the scholar of Asian art Langdon Warner (1881-1955) was named Director of the Museum. Warner studied early Japanese Buddhist sculpture, and in his book on that subject pointed out the key role of Korean craftsmen in producing the early masterpieces of Buddhist sculpture in Japan. In 1911 Warner and his wife Lorraine traveled to Korea to study ceramics.
Lorraine Warner wrote one of the first full-length introductions to Korean ceramics for an American audience in the 1930 issue of Eastern Art.
The undisputed masterpiece of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Korean ceramic collection is the magnificent Goryo dynasty carved celadon maebyong vase from the collection of the financier J.P. Morgan. A large group of celadon wares, Chosun dynasty vases and ewers with underglaze iron and cobalt designs, as well as a small group of contemporary ceramics comprise the main holdings. Korean paintings in the collections include Buddhist subjects, such as Third Judge of Hell, as well as secular ink paintings, and calligraphies. The collection has grown impressively over the past decade, owing in part to the formation of the Korean Heritage Group in 1997. Its members have given works of art and donations for the purchase of new acquisitions. The first solo exhibition of a Korean contemporary artist at the Museum in the fall of 2003, Mountain Dreams, Contemporary Ceramics by Yoon Kwang-cho, organized by Felice Fischer. A major future project is the planning for a new, larger Korean exhibition space in the expanded Asian galleries.