College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Sooa Im McCormick Q&A

Sooa Im McCormick graduated from the University of Kansas with a Ph.D. in Asian Art in 2014. She now works as Assistant Curator of Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio. Here’s a little more about her time at KU and her current job.

What years were you at KU as a Ph.D. student? I started the program in 2005 and finished it in 2014. I spent almost a decade in Lawrence, so perhaps that explains why I think of it as my second home, and miss it very much.

What drew you to the study of East Asian art history? When I first studied art history, I was very interested in European Baroque art because my bachelor’s degree in Korea was in Spanish and Latin American Literature and Language. When I began my master’s degree in art history at Rutgers, I started to become very interested in topics of artistic interactions between East Asia and Europe. In order to pursue this topic, I decided to study East Asian art history.  

Can you describe your job as Assistant Curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art? I am in charge of rotation, presentation, and interpretation of our museum’s Korean art collection. Also, I have some curatorial and educational responsibilities related to the Chinese art collection. I made my first acquisition last December and plan to make another one soon. What I like most about my job is that I get to curate exhibitions and to shop for artwork for the museum!

What’s one good memory from your time at KU? There was an exhibition seminar offered by Dr. Haufler and Mr. Wilson, who was the Director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art at the time. Mr. Wilson thought it would be stimulating and interesting to divide students into two teams, and have them compete to see who could come up with the most interesting exhibition idea. I got to present our exhibition idea in front of the judges, and I still remember the moment when they chose our team. The title for the exhibition we curated was “Senses and Sensibilities.”

Do you have any advice for students considering a similar career? I would like to encourage such students to do various types of internships, not just curatorial internships, but also internships in other museum departments (such as development and advancement, or education). In this way, they will learn how museums operate from different angles, which is helpful because when working in museums, every project involves collaboration and collegiality.

As a side note: I heard that you met your husband at one of our Center’s social events. Is that true? Yes! Now we have a 4-year old daughter with a name meaning “Bright Will, ” in Korean.

Printed in the 2015 CEAS Annual Report.

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CEAS offers an M.A. program in Contemporary East Asian Studies.This interdisciplinary degree focused on 20th and 21st century East Asia provides students with in-depth interdisciplinary knowledge of a selected East Asian country (China, Korea, Japan); a broad knowledge of modern East Asia; and social science research skills and methods appropriate to international area studies. Read more about the CEAS M.A. Program, or contact Ayako Mizumura, CEAS Assistant Director, at or 785-864-1478.

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