For scholars of Asian Studies, no trip to Washington, D.C. is complete without a visit to the Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art. We anticipate that many AAS 2018 conference attendees will make time to hop on the Metro and ride down to the National Mall, where they will find a newly renovated Freer|Sackler and a number of special exhibits.
The Smithsonian Metro stop is practically on the doorstep of the Freer Gallery of Art, which houses a permanent collection assembled by Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919). Freer had diverse artistic interests, and the Freer Gallery displays works from China, Korea, Japan, the Islamic World, and South Asia. The Freer is also home to the spectacular Peacock Room, designed for a London mansion in the 1870s by James McNeill Whistler and later transported to the United States by Freer.
A connecting passage links the Freer Gallery with the below-ground Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (entrance to the Sackler is also possible via the pavilion on Independence Avenue). The Sackler’s permanent exhibits include contemporary artworks, as well as South and Southeast Asia galleries. The Sackler also offers a number of special exhibitions, such as “Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia,” a wide-ranging examination of Buddhist art, and “Resound: Ancient Bells of China,” which brings a set of 2,500-year-old bells to life.
The Freer|Sackler is open daily, 10am-5:30pm, and admission is free. The museums offer a number of free gallery tours every day; please check their website for the schedule.
As a special welcome to AAS 2018 attendees, the Freer|Sackler has arranged an open house on Thursday, March 22. AAS participants can take part in storage visits and special curator-led tours, learn about the Freer|Sackler’s free online research resources, and take away some free books!
We are very grateful to the Freer|Sackler for offering AAS 2018 conference participants this special opportunity and hope that many of you will be able to enjoy the open house events described below.
Gallery Tours – No registration necessary
Imperfectly Beautiful: Inventing Japanese Ceramic Style (Freer Gallery 6)
March 22, 3pm and 4pm (repeat of 3pm)
Louise Cort, Curator of Ceramics
This exhibition brings together Momoyama-period ceramics from Kyoto, Mino, Iga, Bizen, and Kyushu, asking what they have in common and why they look the way they do. Louise Cort adds, “Not at all certain that I’ve nailed the answers, I look forward to looking and discussing with colleagues.”
Rediscovering Korea’s Past
March 22, 3pm
Charlotte Horlyck, Smithsonian Institution History of Art Senior Fellow
Charles Lang Freer acquired his first Korean object in 1896 and over the next two decades he succeeded in building a collection of Korean art that in quantity and quality was unique for its time. Particularly outstanding are his ceramics and other artefacts from the Goryeo kingdom (918-1392) that can now be seen in Gallery 14, and they will be the focus of the tour.
Power in Southeast Asia
March 22, 4pm
Emma Natalya Stein, Curatorial Fellow for the Southeast Asian Art
Through a range of local styles, techniques, and materials, the artworks in this exhibition reveal understandings of power in Southeast Asia. Large and small objects from Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand are clustered to explore the powers of warfare, water, snakes, and the feminine.
Storage Visit – Registration Required – 15 people
Eat, Pray, Love: New Acquisitions in Hindu Court Painting
March 22, at 2pm
Sackler Storage Visit with Debra Diamond, Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art
View recently acquired and not previously published Rajput and Pahari paintings from the 17th and 18th century with curator of South and Southeast Asian art Debra Diamond, who will discuss their potential for future research projects.