Coming Exhibition: Collecting Asian Objects in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945

“Collecting Asian Objects in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945”

Lady riding a horse, Astana Tombs, Turpan, 7th-8th century, color on clay, 38.5cm high.

Who:  

National Museum of Korea

When: Oct. 28, 2014 – January 11, 2015 (Hours Vary)

Where: 

National Museum of Korea
137, Seoubinggo-ro (168-6, Yongsan-dong 6-ga)
Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-797

More Information: Here and Here.

In the late nineteenth century, as Western powers expanded deeper into Asia, the cultures of the East were eagerly commodified to satisfy westerners’ penchant for the exotic. Tomb thefts were just as prevalent as legitimate archeological investigations. With the concurrent boom in the antique market, the acquired artifacts were smoothly incorporated into the category of ‘fine arts’.
At the center of this movement were museums established through the emergence of modern states. Korea, however, was unable to play a leading role in the current of this era. At the time, Japan regarded itself as the only civilized country in Asia, and thus the only country capable of leading the primitive East into modern civilization. Based on this belief, Japan re-interpreted the histories of other Asian countries from its own perspective and attempted to promote these historical revisions through museums.
Notably, the so-called cultural assets collected in museums at that time originated from all across Asia, ranging from Central Asia to China and Japan. Why did Japan collect cultural assets from other Asian countries under its colonial rule? This exhibition represents the first step of a long journey that will yield both a question and a corresponding answer about our museum’s collection of Asian cultural assets and its origins.

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