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MFA Publications Debuts Its First Highlights Series E-Books, Musical Instruments and Arts of Korea


Digital Books Available to Download Exclusively on Apple’s iBookstore

BOSTON, MA - —MFA Publications, the publishing imprint of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), announces today the debut of its first digital books from its MFA Highlights series, Musical Instruments and Arts of Korea. These full-color, multimedia enhanced digital books for iPad are available to download on the iBookstore for $9.99 each. The two books are part of the MFA Highlights series, which focuses on specific holdings within the MFA’s encyclopedic collections.

“Digital books allow us to create experiences with art that were unthinkable even a decade ago. The MFA’s musical instruments collection presents the perfect opportunity for adding meaningful audio and video. The book serves as a natural extension of the Museum’s mission—to increase our understanding of works of art—by showing how these instruments represent a marriage of technology, artistry, symbolism, and entertainment,” said Emiko Usui, Director of MFA Publications. “This electronic format also enables us to present works from our Arts of Korea book in a new light by taking advantage of special enhancements. The reader can now view a variety of objects in 360-degrees—something that any connoisseur would say is essential for fully appreciating the splendors and subtleties of Korean art.”

MFA Highlights: Musical Instruments by Darcy Kuronen, Department Head and Pappalardo Curator of Musical Instruments at the Museum, includes 140 illustrations complemented by 25 audio and 23 video clips that bring the Museum’s collection to life. It is available online at instruments-e-book. This is the first e-book about musical instruments at an American museum. It presents more than 100 objects, drawn from the MFA’s renowned collection of some 1,100 instruments. They span centuries and cultures to offer a brilliant array of instruments as producers of both aural and visual delight. The pieces included in the book are remarkable not only for the myriad sounds they produce, but also for their varied and often extraordinarily beautiful appearance. They are showcased as works of art, and through the audio and video elements, readers can tap an icon to both hear how many of these works sound as well as see how they are held by the performer.

Expert musicians are featured performing on rare and historical instruments: Douglas Yeo, professor of trombone at Arizona State University following a 27-year career as bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston Pops Orchestra, performs on the MFA’s French tenor trombone (about 1830); Durga Krishnan, a certified teacher of Carnatic Music from Marlborough, MA, plays a modern South Indian lute (veena); Lorraine Lee Hammond, a leading proponent and virtuoso player of the Appalachian dulcimer, plays a 1913 example from the Museum’s collection. Readers of Musical Instruments also can listen to a Dutch oboe from about 1720, a Javanese gamelan from 1840, and a Gibson lap steel guitar from 1949. The book offers a vivid encounter with a rich collection, enhanced to provide an accessible and fascinating introduction to the artistry and significance of musical instruments around the world.

Enhanced fixed-layout EPUB for iPad; 175 pages; 140 illustrations with 25 audio and 23 video clips; $9.99. Generous support for the Musical Instruments e-book was provided by the MFA’s Visiting Committee for the Department of Musical Instruments.

MFA Highlights: Arts of Korea is by Jane Portal, Matsutaro Shoriki Chair, Arts of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; with Suhyung Kim, research associate; and Hee Jung Lee, library assistant, all of the MFA. It is available at The digital book explores one of the finest collections of Korean art outside of East Asia through the presentation of 150 color illustrations, 11 of which are interactive, allowing the reader to rotate selected treasures 360 degrees with the tap of a finger. The book provides detailed views of magnificent objects, such as a 12th-century ewer in the shape of a bamboo shoot, a 14th-century Buddhist reliquary, a 15th-century flask with fish and scroll design, and a contemporary vase from the 1990s. The e-book also includes essays about the objects’ cultural history.

The 100 works highlighted in Arts of Korea are drawn from the Museum’s collection of more than 1,000 Korean objects. Among them are superb ceramics, such as celadon masterworks from the 11th to 14th centuries, as well as Buddhist paintings and sculptures, metalwork, lacquer, and ink painting. While some of the objects featured in the publication were created for royals and aristocrats, many others were originally intended for everyday use and tell a story not only about the artisans who made these boxes, mirrors, jars, tiles, and trays, but also about the people who used them. The works represented in Arts of Korea range from a Bronze Age (1500–300 BCE) dagger to contemporary ceramics and prints, highlighting the creative dialogue of artists with Korea’s unique traditions, as well as with those of China and Japan, over more than two millennia.

Enhanced fixed-layout EPUB for iPad; 195 pages; 150 color illustrations with eleven 360-degree views; $9.99. The publication of the Arts of Korea e-book was made possible through an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

MFA Highlights: Musical Instruments and MFA Highlights: Arts of Korea are available exclusively on the iBookstore: The books were first published in print by MFA Publications. Many of the works included in these two books (print and e-book versions) are showcased at the MFA in the Musical Instruments Gallery and the Arts of Korea Gallery. In addition, visitors to the Museum can enjoy the MFA Guide, which offers audio and visual highlights of works from both collections, and those who visit the MFA’s website,, can further explore the MFA’s holdings of musical instruments and works of art from Korea.

Other E-books and Electronic Publications
MFA Publications produced its first e-book in 2010. The e-book edition of Sargent’s Daughters: The Biography of a Painting (published in print in 2009) by Erica E. Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of Paintings in the Art of the Americas at the MFA, explores the genesis of one of the Museum’s great iconic works, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882) by John Singer Sargent. The e-book can be downloaded from a variety of e-book retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore. In 2012 MFA Publications produced its first online catalogue, Paintings of the Americas, a free digital publication, available at Designed to complement the Museum’s Art of the Americas Wing, it features a selection of more than 400 paintings from the MFA’s collection of nearly 2,000 created by artists from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

Print Publications
MFA Publications offers a wide variety of books on the visual arts, including essays, biographies, award-winning exhibition catalogues, and children’s books, as well as collaborations with major artists. It has produced more than 100 titles in the past decade, including the recently released John Singer Sargent Watercolors by Erica E. Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings, MFA, and Teresa A. Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art and Managing Curator, Arts of the Americas and Europe, Brooklyn Museum (248 pages, 175 color illustrations; $60 hardcover; $39.95 softcover). The book introduces readers to the full sweep of Sargent’s accomplishments in watercolor, and reunites the contents of the only two major watercolor exhibitions he held in the United States during his lifetime. Co-published with the Brooklyn Museum, it complements the exhibition John Singer Sargent Watercolors (on view at the MFA October 13, 2013–January 20, 2014. Generous support for this publication was provided by the Vance Wall Foundation, with additional support from the Ann and William Elfers Publication Fund. The exhibition in Boston is sponsored by Bank of America, with additional support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For a complete list of books produced by MFA Publications, please visit

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its encyclopedic collection, which includes an estimated 450,000 objects. The Museum’s collection is made up of: Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger on weekdays after 3 p.m., weekends, and Boston Public Schools holidays; otherwise $10. Wednesday nights after 4 p.m. admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25). MFA Members are always admitted for free. The MFA’s multi-media guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.


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