• Pebble (P1501), 2015
    Mother-of-pearl and lacquer on fiberglass
    by Hwang Samyong (Korean, b. 1960); Crosspoint Cultural Foundation, Korea. © Hwang Samyong. Photograph © Crosspoint Cultural Foundation, Korea.

  • Table with bird and trees motif, 1700–1800. Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
    Lacquered wood with inlaid mother-of-pearl
    by Unknown (Asian Art Museum, Museum purchase, 2016.40. Photograph © Asian Art Museum)

  • Table with phoenix, crane, and peach motif, 1800–1900. Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
    Lacquered wood with inlaid mother-of-pearl
    by Unknown (Asian Art Museum, Museum purchase, 2016.39. Photograph © Asian Art Museum)


April 29 – October 23

Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware from Korea

On a background of sleek lacquer, mother-of-pearl illuminates intricate flowers,
swirling leaves and birds poised to fly. This ornate art has been practiced in
Korea for over a thousand years, but it hasn’t been extensively studied or
displayed in the United States. Now, learn about luminous Korean mother-ofpearl
lacquerware with the first U.S. exhibition devoted to this time-honored
tradition. Through 30 radiant objects, many on view for the first time, you’ll
discover the painstaking techniques used to create a flawless, gleaming surface
filled with almost microscopic details. You’ll also get a close-up look at abalone
shell, the stunning natural phenomenon that gives these works their iridescent
luster. And an in-gallery video will share the conservation procedures that
preserve the art’s beauty and integrity.
The works featured in this exhibition are mostly drawn from the museum’s
collection, in addition to objects on loan from the Los Angeles County
Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A related display
of five contemporary artworks of various mediums can be found in the
adjacent Korean art galleries. Influenced by traditional Korean mother-of-pearl
lacquerware, these works demonstrate the vitality of this vibrant art form today


Asian Art Museum

Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, Southeast Asian, Himalayan & Central Asian, Islamic & Middle Eastern

Home to more than 18,000 exquisite art objects spanning 6,000 years of history and culture throughout Asia, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is one of the largest museums in the West devoted exclusively to Asian art and culture. From a rare 3,000 year old Chinese bronze rhino to the latest contemporary creations, the museum is a window to Asia’s past and present.
Tuesdays through Sundays: 10 AM–5 PM
Thursdays (through Oct 8, 2015): 10 AM–9 PM
Closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day



(415) 581-3500
United States
200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102


Tuesday through Sunday
10 am–5 pm