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Victoria & Albert Museum

Korean art at the V&A

New space sponsored by Samsung corporation

London

On 1 December the Victoria and Albert Museum opened its new Samsung Gallery to house the most comprehensive collection of Korean Art in this country. It will display over 600 objects dating from the fifth century to the present and is funded to the tune of £430,000 by the Korean Samsung corporation with a further £25,000 from the government-funded Business Sponsorship Incentive Scheme. The new space has been designed by Tim Molloy of Malone Design who has separated the gallery from the surrounding Chinese, Japanese and Chinese Export displays by manipulation of gallery lighting rather than obtrusive design elements. Following a trip to Korea Mr Molloy selected cherry wood for the raised plinths in the gallery and a reference to a Korean temple in the curved ceiling space. Hidden behind a shrine-like structure are two touch-screen video programmes, designed to introduce visitors to Korean daily life as well as to provide background information on the more important exhibits. At the end of the gallery Mr Molloy has designed a tall wooden column inspired by the vertical nature of hangul, the Korean script, which has been inscribed with part of a Korean poem cycle. A number of events have been organised in connection with the new gallery, including a study weekend on the “Lacquer arts of Asia: focus on Japan”, a seminar entitled “What is Korean Shamanism today?” and study days on Korean material culture and Korean textile arts. Beth McKillop of the museum’s Far Eastern department has written Korean Art and Design (£16.95) which will be published to coincide with the opening.