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Respected Scholar Joins Cleveland Museum of Art as Associate Curator
Seunghye Sun is the new Associate Curator of Japanese and Korean Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Photo: Jaeyoon Kim.

CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), home to one of the world’s preeminent collections of Asian art, announced today the appointment of Seunghye Sun as associate curator of Japanese and Korean art. Sun assumes her duties at the CMA in July 2010. The addition of Sun is made possible by a spendable three-year grant of $450,000 awarded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the hiring of a curator of Japanese and Korean art.

In this role, Sun will be responsible for all aspects of the care, presentation and interpretation of the museum’s renowned holdings of Japanese and Korean art. She also will develop exhibitions and public programming, while continuing to acquire works that enrich and expand the museum’s collection.
Since 2002, Sun has served as curator at the National Museum of Korea (Seoul, 2002-2008; Gongju, 2009), where, as the first curator of Japanese art in Korea’s history, she single-handedly planned and installed the permanent galleries of Japanese art. Additionally, she was the curator and publication author for several exhibitions, including Western-style Paintings in Modern Japan, The Lure of Asia in Japanese Art and A Treasury of Joseon Period Manuscripts and Portraits from the Distinguished Families in Gongju, Korea.

“I am thrilled to welcome Seunghye Sun to the curatorial department of the Cleveland Museum of Art,” said Griffith Mann, chief curator at the museum. “Her appointment signals a new direction for scholarship in the field, one focused on the cross-cultural exchange between Japan, Korea and China, and matches her own expertise with a great strength of the collection, Edo-period Japanese art.” Sun’s scholarship has focused on a comparative research of East Asian art history, including the reception of Chinese literati painting by 17th to 19th-century Japanese and Korean painters.

“Sun brings to Cleveland a formidable track record of exhibitions, publications, acquisitions and loan exchanges between Korea and Japan,” Mann said. “Her work and accomplishments are widely respected by her peers in the field, and particularly in Japan, where she received her training in art history and where our museum has long-standing ties. Sun will undoubtedly benefit from the legacy of relationships established by her predecessors even as she develops her own vision for the future.”

Sun arrives at a key moment of transformation for the CMA. The museum is in the midst of the largest renovation and expansion in its history, as well as a comprehensive reinstallation and reinterpretation of its permanent collection. Its celebrated collection of Asian art — which includes more than 4,000 objects from Japan, Korea, India, the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, China and Tibet — is scheduled to be installed in new galleries opening in 2013.

“From its earliest days, the museum has demonstrated an active interest in Asian art, collecting aggressively even before the completion of the first museum building in 1916,” Mann said. “Sun understands the strengths of our collections and offers a compelling vision of how they can be showcased to their best advantage.”

Sun has contributed to several books, catalogues and publications, including The Lure of Asia in Japanese Art (2008), Western-style Paintings in Modern Japan (2008), “Asian art galleries at the National Museum of Korea” (Orientations, 2005), “Three Laughers in Japanese Art” (Korea Art and Archeology, 2006) and “Korean Paintings of Peach Blossom Spring in the Late Joseon Dynasty” (Asia Yugaku, 2009). She also has presented at numerous conferences in Korea, Japan, the U.S. and across Europe.

Prior to her tenure at the National Museum of Korea, Sun was appointed a visiting fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute; researcher at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston; curatorial intern at the Ruth & Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art at the Clark Center in California; and research assistant at the Institute of Oriental Culture at Tokyo University. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in aesthetics from Seoul National University in her native country of Korea and taught aesthetics and art history at several universities there. Sun plans to join the CMA upon completion of her doctorate in Japanese art at Tokyo University.

The museum has been without a dedicated curator of Japanese and Korean art since the Asian collection was removed from public view in 2005 as a result of the renovation and expansion project.

The Cleveland Museum of Art | Asian Art | Seunghye Sun |

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