KF Museum Internship
I had the pleasure of serving under the KF Museum Internship program from January to August of this year. During my internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), my main responsibility was the publication of a catalogue for the exhibition titled Diamond Mountains: Travel, Representation and Nostalgia, which is due to open in February 2018. Under the supervision of Lee Soyoung, the Curator of Korean art at the Met, I worked closely with Yoon Sangdeok, a Visiting Curator from the National Museum of Korea, as well as the editorial team at the Met for catalogue publications.
During the first month of my internship, I spent most of my time adjusting to the pace of the Met and New York City. Because the subject matter and historical period of the exhibition— 18th- to 19th-century Joseon-period true-view landscape painting—was not my major field of study, I bolstered my knowledge by reading academic papers and catalogues that the previous KF intern Yoon Minyoung had compiled. These readings became a solid foundation for my curatorial practices at the Met.
I began the English translation of Korean articles in the catalogue from the second month of my internship. Among the four catalogue articles—written by Lee Soomi, Chief Curator at the National Museum of Korea; Chang Chin-sung, Professor at Seoul National University; Lee Soyoung; and Ahn Daehoe, Professor at Sungkyunkwan University—I worked mainly on the translation of Lee Soomi’s essay, which discussed Jeong Seon’s true-view landscape painting represented in Album of Mount Geumgang (Pungak-docheop). As it was a major piece of an upcoming exhibition, it was important for me to deliver the author’s descriptions and explanations with the greatest possible detail to offer readers a deeper understanding of the work. Nancy Cohen, the Chief Editor for the project, provided me with advice on more natural word choices and phrase structures. The translation was largely completed by the end of March, while all the articles for the catalogue were compiled in mid-April. Curator Lee, Ms. Cohen, and I often communicated through email to discuss revisions and details of the translations.
Another important part of my work responsibilities involved collecting supplementary images from different institutions from around the world. When the author of a catalogue article wanted to include supplementary images with their piece, it was my duty to organize the necessary images, find contact numbers for each institution, and translate letters of request from English to Korean. Jenn Sherman from the editorial team oversaw the sending of the letters of request to each institution as well as the subsequent receipt of the requested images. The image request process went smoothly when dealing with some institutions, like the National Museum of Korea, not only because they have previously worked with the Met on several occasions, but also because they have a well-established system for loaning images. However, we did encounter trouble obtaining images from some institutions, as they occasionally did not provide the proper contact information or did not have high-resolution images available for publication.
At the very end of the publication process, I completed an art list and checklist. An art list is the list of objects included in the catalogue in order of appearance in the article, while a checklist is the list of objects with detailed information including their size, accession number, and medium, which is categorized by lender. We compiled the final checklist for TMS (the Met’s collections management system) and sent the art list to the design team, which helped them understand the order and structure of the images found in the articles. For the checklist, Curator Lee wanted to include magnified images of inscriptions and seals for each artwork so that scholars in the fields of East Asian studies and art history could examine the objects in detail, thus aiding their research. To facilitate this inclusion, I cropped images of the inscriptions and added them to the checklist.
By early August, most of the editorial and curatorial process for the catalogue was completed and we passed the results along to the design team. Designers assembled all the materials in the form of a booklet, which will be published in February along with the opening of the exhibition after a review process. My internship finished at the end of August, but I still cherish the memory of creating the catalogue and promoting Korean art at one of the most prestigious museums in the world.