From left, Steve Kim, 14, Alexander Kim, 18; and Daniel Jang, 15 (behind Alexander Kim) play buk drums as people enter the Howard County Welcome Center to see the HanGuk Art Center Pop-Up Museum on March 28. (TBM / Jason Whong)

To the beat of Korean “buk” drums, the HanGuk Art Center Pop-Up Museum opened at the Howard County Welcome Center on March 28. Local officials—including former Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan and Korean art collector Mi Schill Kim, who curated the collection—cut the ribbon to officially unveil the collection, which includes pottery, paintings, screens, books, and artifacts.

Joanna Chin, serving as an Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison to Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, noted that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent 20% of the population in the county. 

“Through this collection, we will be able to see cultural expression and art,” she said, sharing a Certificate of Appreciation signed by the county executive, which read, in part, “I know there is tremendous growth and opportunity ahead to for us to understand and appreciate each other.”

“This is a beautiful beginning,” Chin added. 

Amanda Hof, executive director of Visit Howard County, left, holds a ribbon that was just cut by Mi Schill Kim, curator of the HanGuk Art Center Pop-Up Museum. Former First Lady of Maryland Yumi Hogan applauds, as Dr. Sue Song holds another side of the ribbon. (TBM / Jason Whong)

Curator Mi Schill Kim was owner-operator of the former Asian Art Collective gallery that was located on Main Street in Ellicott City for over 20 years. She has ambitions to expand the HanGuk Art Center and secure a permanent location. 

“I have a vision to bring Korean art and culture to all,” she said. Part of the collection has been displayed at the Korean Embassy in Washington.

Former Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan described Howard County as her second home. “My three daughters grew up here in Howard County,” she said. “Howard County is my heart. Through the art, we can share our culture.”

Maryland Delegate Mark Chang expressed appreciation for the collection, saying it will “display and showcase the vibrancy we have here in our community.”

Dr. Sue Song, founder of the Korean American Community Association of Howard County, expressed appreciation for the many volunteers who helped the opening happen. “We have a place where we can proudly show some of our thoughts and feelings,” she said. “Our art is very nature-oriented.”

Three young Korean drummers—Alexander Kim, 18; Daniel Jang, 15; and Steve Kim, 14—performed on the newly renovated outdoor space that spans the front of the Visitor’s Center. 

Koreans have used traditional barrel-shaped drums — buks — dating back to 57 BC. 

Artist Yeonmi Kim’s painting depicts a tiger cub bothering its mother in a playful manner. (TBM / Jason Whong)

Many of the paintings depict scenes of nature. Artist Yeonmi Kim’s painting depicts a tiger cub bothering its mother in a playful manner. “In most traditional Korean folk paintings, the tiger represents fearsome strength,” the artist described. Their role is to scare away the evil spirts and ghosts. However, this painting takes the unusual stance of depicting the tigers in a dynamic and spirit way. This would be an excellent piece to have in your home to encourage peace and relaxation.” 

The HanGuk Art Center Pop-Up Museum, which will remain in the Visitor’s Center until February 2024, also features art and retail items available for purchase. Proceeds will support the HanGuk Art Center and Howard County Welcome Center. Children are offered free activities, including Korean English-word translation coloring pages. Books on Korean art and culture are also available for loan at no charge.

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