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National Museum of Asian Art

Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (FSGA)

Chase F. Robinson, Director

The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, are located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Committed to preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting exemplary works of art, the National Museum of Asian Art addresses broad questions about culture, identity, and the contemporary world. The museum cares for exceptional collections of Asian art, with more than 45,000 objects dating from the Neolithic period to today and originating from the ancient Near East to China, Japan, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, and the Islamic world. Nearly a century old, the Freer Gallery of Art also holds a significant group of American works of art largely dating to the late nineteenth century. It houses the world’s largest collection of diverse works by James McNeill Whistler, including the famed Peacock Room.

Collections

The Freer Gallery, a gift to the nation by Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919), opened to the public in 1923 as the Smithsonian’s first fine arts museum. Housing one of the most distinguished collections of Asian art in the world as well as an important collection of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American art, the gallery’s cultural treasures are presented as keys to understanding the civilizations that produced them.

The collection of the Freer Gallery of Art, established in 1923, spans 6,000 years and many different cultures, reflecting the taste and style of its founder, Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919). The Freer collections comprise approximately 7,727 examples of Chinese art; 6,488 Japanese examples; 786 works from Korea; 3,289 works from the Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean that include Gospels and biblical material; and 3,682 works from South and Southeast Asia. In ad-dition, there are about 1,709 works of American art collected by Freer, including the world’s largest assembly of James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). The full Freer collection contains some 25,024 objects.

The gallery houses particularly distinguished collections of ancient Chinese bronzes and jades, painting and calligraphy, and ceramics; Korean ceramics of the Koryo dynasty; Japanese screens, paintings, sculpture, and ceramics; and Islamic manuscripts, painting, calligraphy, metalwork, ceramics, and glass from the Persian, Arab, and Turkish cultural spheres. Ancient Iranian metalwork is outstanding, as is a small collection of ancient Egyptian glass. The South and Southeast Asian collections include an important group of Mughal paintings as well as sculpture, ceramics, and Hindu painting. In addition to works by Whistler, the American painting collection includes works by other Americans, including Dwight W. Tryon, Thomas W. Dewing, and Abbott H. Thayer.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, established in July 1982, received its initial collections through the gift of approximately one thousand objects from the collections of Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913–87). The gallery’s primary goals are the advancement of scholarly knowledge and public appreciation of the arts of Asia. Founded to share the historical focus of its sister museum, the Freer Gallery of Art, the Sackler gallery has increased the range of Asian art activities at the Smithsonian while developing an active program of international loan exhibitions.

The Sackler Gallery collections include Chinese jades dating from Neolithic times (ca. 5000–1500 B.C.E.) into the nineteenth century; Chinese bronzes from the Shang (ca. 1700–1050 B.C.E.) through the Han (206 B.C.E.–C.E. 220) dynasties; Chinese paintings and calligraphy; Chinese lacquer; ancient Near Eastern ceramics and metalwork; and stone, wood, and clay sculpture from South and Southeast Asia. The Vever Collection of Persian and Indian manuscripts, paintings, calligraphies, illuminations, and bookbindings was acquired by purchase in 1986. Other important additions have been Japanese works of art, including twentieth-century photo-graphs, prints and ceramics; and art from South Asia, China, and Tibet. In 2004 the Gallery was given an important collection of Central Asian ikats by Dr. Guido Goldman. The Sackler embraces contemporary art and a wide range of media and artistic practices. The continuing acquisitions program is aimed at developing Gallery collections to reflect the full range of Asian art. Recent additions include the Gerhard Pulverer Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books, and the Robert O. Muller and Anne van Biema Collections of Japanese woodblock prints, making the Freer and Sackler a world leader in the study and display of Japanese graphic art.

Publications and Lectures

The National Museum of Asian Art cosponsor with the Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan, the annual scholarly journal Ars OrientalisArs Orientalis is a peer-reviewed annual volume of scholarly articles on the art and archaeology of Asia, including the ancient Near East and the Islamic world. Fostering a broad range of themes and approaches, it is intended for scholars in diverse fields.

Throughout its history, the gallery has produced a variety of publications, including the Oriental Studies series and the Freer Gallery of Art Occasional Papers. Today the gallery’s publication program includes studies in conservation and scientific research, research on Asian art history, catalogues of the permanent collection and scholarly exhibition catalogues, in both print and online versions. The gallery sponsors scholarly workshop and symposia throughout the year, as well as a full program of public lectures and performances to complement the exhibition program. To learn more, please visit: https://asia.si.edu/research/ars-orientalis/

Department of Conservation & Scientific Research (DCSR)

Through conservation and scientific research, the DCSR contributes to the overall efforts of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to achieve the highest standards for the collection, preservation, study, and exhibition of Asian art. A permanent staff of twelve works hand-in-hand with a large, changing group of short-term employees, fellows, interns, and visiting scholars. The principle aims of the DCSR staff are the care and treatment of the collection and the use of scientific methods to study objects in the collection and related works of art. Major efforts are also made in conservation training, outreach efforts such as lectures to public and professional audiences, and collaborative work with other bureaus of the Smithsonian Institution and other national and international institutions. In addition to care of the collection, a major part of the conservation effort is the preparation of objects for exhibition. Scientific research in the Freer and Sackler focuses primarily on the study of the physical nature of works of art from Asian cultures, and ancillary research efforts address specific questions concerning the technical and material nature of art objects and the conservation of the collections. Additional information about the department’s programs, research facilities, and fellowship and internship opportunities can be found at the following web site: http://www.asia.si.edu/visitor/conservation.htm

Library

The research library originated with Charles Lang Freer’s personal library and is one of the branch libraries in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries system. The library supports the research, exhibition, and educational programs of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and it serves outside researchers and the general public in the study of Asian art and culture and of American art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The National Museum of Asian Art houses the largest Asian art research library in the United States. Open to the public five days a week (except federal holidays) without appointment, the library collection consists of more than 84,000 volumes, including nearly 2,000 rare books. Half the volumes are in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages. Book contents range from the Ming and Qing Dynasties of China, to woodblock printed books from Japan, to Western travel books on Asia. In 1995, the library was selected to be the official U.S. repository of art exhibition and collection catalogues published in Japan, and to date has received over 4,000 volumes. These catalogues are available via interlibrary loan service. Its on-line catalog, which can display Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters, is accessible through the Internet: http://siris-libraries.si.edu/.

Archives

The Archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, collects, preserves, and makes accessible original primary source materials relating to the study, collecting, and understanding of Asian art and culture and American art of the Gilded Age. The Archives promotes the increase and diffusion of knowledge by supporting the discovery, research, publication, and exhibition of materials in its care. The Archives houses over one hundred and eighty collections, amounting to over one thousand cubic feet. Manuscript collections date from the early 19th century to the present, including the papers and records of art collectors, dealers, scholars, and archaeologists; making the Archives a critical repository for the study of the advent and development of Asian art scholarship and appreciation in America. Our photography holdings are notable for views of Asia from the mid-19th to early 20th century.

For more information on the Archives and our collections please visit: https://asia.si.edu/research/archives/. Finding aids are available at https://sova.si.edu/search?q=*&f=data_source:Freer%20Gallery%20of%20Art%20and%20Arthur%20M.%20Sackler%20Gallery%20Archives.

Research Staff

Allee, Stephen D., Associate Curator for Chinese Painting and Calligraphy. B.A. (1975) George Washington University; M.A. (1986) University of Washington. Research specialties: Chinese painting and calligraphy. Contact: AlleeST@si.edu

Brooks, Kit, The Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art. Ph.D. (2017) Harvard University. Research specialties: Medieval, early modern, and modern Japanese painting; early modern and modern Japanese prints and printed books; contemporary Japanese prints Contact: Brookskl@si.edu

Catanzariti, Antonietta, The Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretarial Scholar, Assistant Curator for the Ancient Near East. Ph.D. (2015) University of California, Berkeley. Research specialties: Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Ceramic Economy, Ancient Interaction Patterns. Contact: CatanzaritiA@si.edu

Clarke, Matthew Lawrence,;  Conservation Scientist. Ph.D. (2006) University of Michigan in Chemistry. Research Specialties: Photographic materials, Spectroscopic and microscopic analyses, Paintings, Jades, Polymers and Coatings. Contact: ClarkeM@si.edu

Diamond, Debra, Elizabeth Moynihan Curator for South and Southeast Asian Art. B.F.A. (1981) Parsons School of Design; M.A. (1991) Hunter College; Ph.D. (2000) Columbia University. Research specialties: South Asian Art; Indian court painting; Visual culture of yoga. Contact: DiamoDE@si.edu

Farhad, Massumeh, Chief Curator and the Ebrahimi Family Curator of Persian, Arab, and Turkish Art. B.A. (1977) Wellesley College; M.A. (1983), Ph.D. (1987) Harvard University. Research specialties: Islamic Art, Persian painting. Contact: FarhaMa@si.edu

Feltens, Frank, The Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art. Ph.D. (2016) Columbia University. Research specialties: Medieval, early modern, and modern Japanese painting and calligraphy; modern Japanese photography; intersections between painting and ceramics. Contact: FeltensF@si.edu 

Giaccai, Jennifer, Conservation Scientist.  B.A. (1995) Macalester College; M.S.E. (1999) Johns Hopkins University.  Research specialties: Technical studies of paints, pigments, dyes and their degradation processes; non-invasive methods for characterizing works of art; analysis of resins and organic materials. Contact: GiaccaiJ@si.edu

Greenwold, Diana Jocelyn, Lunder Curator of American Art, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (2016), B.A. Yale University (2005). Research Specialties: 19th and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts, Trans-national cultural exchange. Contact: greenwoldd@si.edu

Huh, Carol, Associate Curator of Contemporary Asian Art.  B.S.F.S, M.A. (2005) Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Research specialties: Contemporary Asian art. Contact: HuhC@si.edu

Jung, Sol, The Shirley Z. Johnson Assistant Curator of Japanese Art. Ph.D. (2021) Princeton University; M.A. (2014) Princeton University; B.A. (2011) University of Pennsylvania. Research specialties: Premodern, modern, and contemporary Japanese ceramics, lacquerware, and metalwork; archaeological East Asian ceramics; Japanese tea utensils/objects; Japanese art in a transnational maritime context. Contact: JungS@si.edu

McCarthy, Blythe E., Andrew W. Mellon Senior Scientist. S.B. (1987), S.M. (1988) Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D. (1996) Johns Hopkins University. Research specialties: Technical studies of artifacts composed of inorganic materials, especially Asian glass and ceramics; materials characterization and non-destructive analysis methods. Contact: MccarBl@si.edu

Mirza, Sana, Scholarly Programs and Publications. B.A. (2009) George Mason University; M.A. (2011), PhD (2021), Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Research specialties: Islamic art. Contact: mirzas@si.edu

Rettig, Simon, Associate Curator for the Arts of the Islamic World. B.A. (2000) École du Louvre; M.A. (2003) and Ph.D. (2011) University of Aix-Marseille I, France. Research specialties: Islamic art, Persian arts of the book, Islamic calligraphy and Persian painting Contact: RettigS@si.edu

Strahan, Donna, Head of Department of Conservation and Scientific Research.   A.A. (1967) Stephens College; B.A., M.A. (1982) George Washington University. Research specialties: Conservation, restoration and technical research on Asian objects. Contact: StrahanD@si.edu

Stein, Emma Natalya, Assistant Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art. B.A. (2003) Columbia; Ph.D. (2017) Yale University. Research specialties: South Asian and Southeast Asian art and architecture; landscape. Contact: SteinE@si.edu

Stuart, Jan,   Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Art of Chinese Art, Research specialties: Chinese art, from 10th century CE forward: ceramics, lacquer, cloisonne, textiles, carvings, furniture, vernacular and court paintings, garden landscapes, and history of practices of display of the arts in imperial China. Contact: StuartJ@si.edu

Wilson, J. Keith, Curator of Ancient Chinese Art. B.A. (1978) Williams College; M.A. (1983) University of Michigan; M.F.A. (1985) Princeton University. Research specialties: Chinese jades of the Neolithic through Han periods, bronzes of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, with particular interest in inscribed examples; Buddhist sculpture of the Six Dynasties period and Sui and Tang dynasties; Korean art of all periods. Contact: WilsonK@si.edu

Conservation Staff

Bosworth, Jenifer, Exhibitions Conservator. B.A. (1992) Cornell University; M.A. (1999) University of Durham, England. Research specialties: Conservation topics in the following specialties: exhibitions, ethnographic objects. Contact: BosworthJ@si.edu

Chase, Ellen, Objects Conservator. B.A. (1988) Williams College; M.A. (1993) New York University. Research specialties: Conservation of inorganic and organic materials with a focus on ceramics. Contact: ChaseEl@si.edu

Hare, W. Andrew, Supervisory East Asian Painting Conservator. B.A. (1985) Oberlin College. Research specialties: Conservation of East Asian paintings. Contact: HareAn@si.edu

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