By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hyunsoo Woo climbs the grand stair case and marvels at this forty foot tall realization of a dream.
“I wanted to introduce that magnificent art to an American audience, all my colleagues thought that I was crazy, even dreaming about that.”
As a curator of Korean art, Woo knew this national treasure from her childhood.
It’s a hanging scroll from one of Korea’s largest temples depicting the Buddha and his disciples. Delicate and powerful images created in 1653.
“That was its first time to travel ever outside of Korea, and even people in Korea have rarely had a chance to see that painting.”
So rare that Buddhist monks came to celebrate its significance, performing a religious ceremony which intends to lift the soul to its eternal life.
The treasures from Korea focus on the arts and culture of the Joseon dynasty, the royal family of Korea from 1392 to 1910.
Because the 200 masterworks are so rare, the museum’s educators created interactive exhibits, so visitors can page through ancient books learning more about the royal life.
“They used many bright colors and usually the patterns and line are very simple.”
In fabrics for clothing, ceramics and metals for the household and screens, like a 19 foot long panorama creating a backdrop for family rituals.
“There’s a screen with ten longevity symbols.”
The stories of symbols wishing long life are told through elaborate animation of high resolution pictures of the art itself.
“You don’t have to know a lot about Korea or Korean art to appreciate this exhibition because we really arranged the exhibition to tell a great story.”
A story that begins with Buddha and opens a door on treasures to be explored.