The first group of Korean objects arrived at the Museum in 1888, forming the base of an outstanding collection that spans the fourth century to the present day, and includes ceramics, embroideries, lacquerware, inlaid metalwork, fashion, product design and digital art. This combination of historic and contemporary materials offer a comprehensive view into the rich cultural heritage and diversity of current studio practices in Korea.

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Highlights from the collection include a rare gilded celadon stand, a slate burial chest from the Goryeo period (918 – 1392), lavish embroideries and elegant paraphernalia from a gentleman scholar from the Joseon dynasty (1392 – 1910). Recent acquisitions in fashion, product design and digital art have expanded this collection, alongside rare and colourful art from North Korea. Part of this collection is displayed in the Korean Gallery, opened in 1992 as the first permanent gallery devoted to Korean art in London.