Seunghye Sun is the consulting curator in charge of the museum's Japanese and Korean art collections, exhibitions, and acquisitions. A scholar from Seoul, Korea, she received academic and museum training in Korea, Japan, and the U.S., specializing in Korean and Japanese art history and aesthetics. Much of her research concentrates on comparative studies in pre-modern East Asian art. However, her recent research interests extend into the modern period, particularly the encounters between East and West in modern Korea and Japan.
Sun curated the special exhibition The Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art, which was on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art from March 27 through August 28, 2011. It featured artworks from the museum’s permanent collection, which tell the story of how Korean and Japanese artists transformed the cultural influence from China into their own unique masterpieces.
Before coming to Cleveland, she was the founding curator of Japanese art at the National Museum of Korea, Seoul, 2002–2008. She successfully opened the first Japanese art gallery at the new National Museum of Korea, with support and cooperation from the Tokyo National Museum, in 2005. In 2009 at the National Museum of Korea, Gongju, Sun was in charge of the gallery of Korean King Munyueong (AD 462–523) of the Baekjae period, who promoted a closer relationship with the Japanese imperial family. She also curated a special exhibition focused on yangban munhwa, a noble class culture of the Joseon period. Sun has been involved in establishing Korean art galleries in several American museums, including the opening of the first Korean art gallery at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston (2006), as well as the survey project at Boston's Museum of Fine Art, under the Korean National Research Institute of Cultural Properties (2003).
At the National Museum of Korea, Sun was the curator and author of Japanese Art (2005); Color of Asia: Prints of Paul Jacoulet, 1896–1960 (2006); Western-style Paintings in Modern Japan (2008); and The Lure of Asia in Japanese Art (2008), as well as curator and co-author of A Treasury of Joseon Period Manuscripts and Portraits from the Distinguished Families in Gongju Area (2009).
Sun contributed articles to the exhibition catalogues for Tsuda Shinobu (2010) at Sakura City Museum in Japan and A Woman's Gentle Eye: A World of Elizabeth Keith (2006) at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea. She has also published widely in journals including Aesthetics (Korea), Museum (Japan), and Orientations, and her presentations gained high acclaim at several international conferences. A prominent scholar, she was invited to be a visiting scholar at the Tokyo National Museum (2007), was appointed a fellow at Harvard Yenching Institute (2002–03), and had a curatorial internship with the Clark Center of Japanese Art (2001–02). She held grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2007), Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies (2003 and 2001), Kobayasi Setsutaro Foundation (2002), and Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies (1990–93); was the recipient of a Japanese Government Scholarship (1997–2002); was named among the most excellent students of Seoul National University (1990–91), and received first prize in humanities at the 17th National Dissertation Contest of Korea (1992).
She taught Japanese art history and East Asian art history at Seoul National University, Seongkyunkwan University, and Jungang University.
Sun earned her BA and MA at the Seoul National University and a PhD from the University of Tokyo in Japan.