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NMK opens remodeled celadon gallery of Goryeo

Dec. 1, 2022 - 16:46 By Kim Hae-yeon
"Goryeo Bisaek: The Jade Hues of Goryeo” at the National Museum of Korea, in central Seoul (Yonhap)

Along a darkened hallway, delicately aligned celadon pottery glowing in their unique jade hues lead to the National Museum of Korea's permanent celadon ware exhibition.

In the newly renovated room, which opened on Nov. 23, NMK presents some 250 pieces of celadon ware of the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), including 12 National Treasures and 12 Treasures.

The new celadon room marks the completion of the renovations of the museum's ceramic galleries, following the renovation of buncheong ware and white porcelain galleries in February last year.

Korean potters began producing high quality porcelain pottery in the 10th century and in the following century, the jade-colored glazes of celadon continued to improve in quality through the potters' development of skills and technology.

Ranging from the early-stage waste shards found in kiln sites to accomplished works of art, the celadon gallery highlights not only the finished masterpieces, but the numerous trials and errors that led to the perfecting of Goryeo celadon.

Goryeo celadon ware on display in the remodeled celadon gallery of the NMK (Yonhap)
Celadon incense burner with an openwork auspicious character design lid (NMK)

A highlight at the gallery is the exquisite celadon incense burner with an openwork auspicious character design lid. Housed in the "Goryeo Bisaek" room along with 17 other celadon objects, the piece has been designated a National Treasure for the unique design and the artistry.

The "Goryeo Bisaek" room and "A Room of Quiet Contemplation" that opened last year, where two Pensive Bodhisattva statues from the late sixth to the early seventh centuries are placed, have been designed to offer visitors calm and tranquility.

"The Goryeo Bisaek room can serve as a room of color therapy for those looking to relax through viewing the jade-colored celadons," a museum researcher told The Korea Herald, Tuesday. "Each celadon is placed under specially designed lighting to create colors that are as close to nature as possible. It can easily take more than an hour to view the single space," according to the researcher.

To augment the atmosphere, French media artist and producer Daniel Kapelian’s new composition, “Blue Celadon,” plays in the background.

For visitors who need visual assistance, the remodeled celadon gallery is equipped with Braille maps and tactile exhibits.

The gallery is open year round with free admission. Dialogue sessions with curators are scheduled on Wednesday evenings throughout the month of December.