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Current Status of Korean Cultural Heritage in the Ethnologisches Museum

Research Project on Current Status of Korean Cultural Heritage in Germany: Ethnological Museum Berlin

This project, funded by the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, focuses on the primary object studies of the Korean collection in the Ethnological Museum Berlin. Of the museum's holdings of approximately 550,000 ethnographic, archaeological and cultural objects from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia and the South Seas, approximately 1400 originate from Korea. These Korean artefacts include prints, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture, medical materials, masks, musical instruments, ritual and everyday objects, accessories and costumes. The sizable ethnomusicological archives with sound recordings and black-and-white photographs from present-day North and South Korea are also part of the museum's Korea collection, which has not yet been explicitly studied.

In close cooperation with the Ethnological Museum Berlin, the research team from the Department of East Asian Art History at the Freie Universität Berlin is conducting fundamental studies on the individual objects and groups, with their materiality and archival materials, as well as their provenance.

The object study produces, among other things, a complete list of the artefacts studied with their basic data with dating and stylistic classifications. The highlights of the collection are compiled, which are characterised with short descriptions. Through this study, publications will be prepared both in a print version and in digital form.

On the one hand, the aim of this research is to conduct a fundamental study of the Korean collection; on the other hand, it will serve to expand the Korean artefacts in the exhibition conception, the integration of the specialised studies and further research. Furthermore, the research results will make an important contribution to the further comparative study of the collection history of Korean artefacts abroad, especially in Germany and Europe.

Project management: Prof. Dr. Jeong-hee Lee-Kalisch (East Asian Art History FU Berlin)
Project coordinator: Prof. Dr. Jeong-hee Lee-Kalisch
Project collaborators: Jihyeong Lee (Master student FU), Hanna Backhaus (Master student FU), Henriette Lavaulx-Vrécourt (Curator EM)
Project executing agency: Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation (OKCHF)
Project sponsor: Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation (OKCHF)
Duration: January 2021 until December 2022