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The Freer and Sackler Galleries

The Freer and Sackler Galleries Review

The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art: the Freer Gallery of Art, which opened to the public in 1923, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which welcomed its first visitors in 1987. Both are physically connected by an underground passageway, and ideologically linked through the study, exhibition, and sheer love of Asian art. In addition, the Freer Gallery contains an important collection of 19th-century American art, punctuated by James McNeil Whistler's Peacock Room.

Highlights

Pick a china pattern, a favorite jade carving, or a painted silk scroll from the collections of Imperial Chinese decorative arts.

Study ancient Biblical manuscripts, including Egyptian gospel parchments from the 4th century, and the colorful Adoration of the Magi parchment from 13th-century Armenia.

Behold the bodhisattva: a 12th-century Japanese sculpture of a Buddhist approaching Nirvana.

Ogle the undulating curves of the 10th-century Indian bronze sculptures of the dancing god Shiva and his wife, the goddess Parvati.

The museum is home to the world's largest collection of paintings by James McNeill Whistler. Be sure to see the Peacock Room, a jewel box of a space that Whistler designed, with gold murals on peacock-blue walls, and a peacock-feather-pattern gold leaf ceiling.

Manuscripts of 15th-century Persian love poetry, in exquisite calligraphy accompanied with intricate gold and silver paintings, are a must-see in the Sackler Gallery.

Tips

The Freer and Sackler galleries are home to the largest Asian art research library in the United States, open to the public five days a week without an appointment.

Free highlight tours are held daily, except on Wednesday and federal holidays. There is often a variety of other free tours as well; ask at the information desks.

The museums regularly host films, concerts, talks, and other events. Visit asia.si.edu to see what's on. Take advantage of the Freer's wide menu of excellent brochures on everything from Islamic art and Japanese painting, to South Asian sculpture and Near Eastern ceramics.

Take advantage of the Freer's wide menu of excellent brochures on everything from Islamic art and Japanese painting to South Asian sculpture and Near Eastern ceramics.

In the family-oriented ImaginAsia workshops, held most weekends at the Sackler Gallery, children ages six to 14 and their adult companions create art ranging from origami to Chinese mirrors.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Freer: 12th St. and Jefferson Dr. SW Sackler: 1050 Independence Ave. SW, The Mall, Washington, DC 20013-7012 | Map It
  • Phone: 202/633–4880; 202/312–1012 tours
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Daily 10–5:30
  • Website:
  • Metro Smithsonian.
  • Location: The Mall
Updated: 06-05-2013

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