City Life Org – National Museum of Asian Art Reveals Hidden Stories of Ancient Korean Architecture in New Exhibit

“Once Upon a Roof: Vanished Korean Architecture” will be on view from May 21 to October 30

For the first time in the United States, visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art can admire a remarkable collection of roof ridge ornaments that were fashionable in Korea more than 1,000 years ago. Called Chemistry in Korean, these monumental elements crowned both ends of the main roof ridge of important buildings. In addition to protecting and beautifying the tops of buildings, they were believed to ward off evil. These ornaments are featured in “Once Upon a Roof: Vanished Korean Architecture” which opens at the museum on May 21.

“This exhibit gives us the rare opportunity to showcase Asian architecture within the walls of the museum,” said Chase F. Robinson, Museum Director Dame Jillian Sackler. “Although focusing on just one aspect of traditional buildings, the exhibition helps visitors understand the materials, engineering and philosophy behind the East Asian tradition, through the lens of Korea. We are grateful to our colleagues at the National Museum of Korea for loaning us these impressive objects, allowing them to leave Korea for the first time.

As visitors explore the exhibit, they will learn why ceramic tile roofs are important elements of East Asian architecture: interlocking kiln-fired pieces created an impermeable cover to protect the less durable wooden materials that support and shape impressive structures like temple and palace halls. This construction practice, first developed in China, arrived in Korea in the 4th century. Throughout East Asia, similar building principles were used for religious and secular structures.

The exhibit begins with an introduction to traditional Korean architecture, including the materials and structural principles that contextualize roof elements within the overall design. Ancient depictions of buildings as well as a contemporary architectural model will help visitors understand the displayed artifacts that were unearthed from the sites of temples and palace halls dating from the Three Kingdoms (Baekje) and Unified Silla periods ago. over 1000 years.

“Although these tiles survived, their buildings did not,” said J. Keith Wilson, curator of the exhibit. “The exhibits were found on archaeological sites. Salvaged, repaired and restored, the examples featured in this exhibition illustrate the beauty, engineering and scale of a vanished architectural tradition.

As a follow-up to the exhibition, the National Museum of Asian Arts will host the webinar “Ancient Korean Architecture in Context” on July 26. Four scholars from Korea and the United States will participate in the webinar, which will focus on ancient Korean architecture and ceramics. tiles dating from the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla periods. The webinar will also offer new perspectives on production techniques and conservation practices.

Once Upon a Rooftop: Lost Korean Architecture” will inaugurate a new suite of gallery spaces that will host temporary and long-term exhibitions. The first long-term exhibition to open will be “Ancient Yemen: Incense, Art and Commerce” on June 25. In early 2023, “The Art of Knowledge in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas” will open and complete the sequel. of galleries.

This exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art and the National Museum of Korea and represents another collaborative project undertaken by the two museums. Support is provided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea.

About the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art

The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, are located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Committed to preserving, exhibiting and interpreting exemplary works of art, the museum houses collections exceptional collections of Asian art, with more than 45,000 objects dating from the Neolithic era to the present day. Famous and iconic objects come from China, Japan, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, the ancient Near East and the Islamic world. The Freer Gallery of Art also holds a significant group of American works of art dating largely from the late 19th century. It houses the world’s largest collection of various works by James McNeill Whistler, including the famous Peacock Room. The National Museum of Asian Art is dedicated to increasing understanding of the arts of Asia through a broad portfolio of exhibitions, publications, curatorial, research and education.

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