Explore Art \\ Collection
Currently not on view
One of the first in the United States, PEM’s Korean collection represents the aesthetic traditions of the Joseon dynasty.
Established in the late 19th century and recognized as one of the first in the United States, PEM’s collection of Korean art is important for both its content and historical significance. In addition to its particularly rich holdings of vernacular art from the late Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), the collection includes notable representations of the prominent role of women artists in Korea through its outstanding examples of basketry, paper-made objects and textiles.
In the 1880s, influenced by the growing interest in ethnology as a new discipline in American museum and academic circles, Edward Sylvester Morse, director of the Peabody Academy of Science, promoted expanding collecting areas and embraced museological approaches such as the display of objects by culture instead of by type. These efforts were bolstered when, in 1883, the first official delegation from Korea arrived in the United States. Among its members was Yu Giljun (Yu Kil-chun), later a renowned politician and early proponent of Korea’s globalization. Salem soon became the cultural crossroads between Morse and Yu, whose collaboration was foundational to the museum’s rich Korean holdings.
Explore some highlights from the collection