At 25: The Freer [and Sacker] Is Here

pic courtesy Freer Sackler gallery

And not only are the Freer and Sackler Galleries here, they’re turning the ripe old age of 25!  To celebrate, the galleries will be hosting several different and exciting shows from Asian artists.  The Freer and Sackler are, after all, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art.  And with all the Asian art that’s been hitting DC lately [Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads exhibition is still at the Hirschhorn], I predict a very full week of events from November 28 to December 1.

On Thursday of this week, Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang will stage a pyrotechnic display in honor of the Sackler’s 25th anniversary.  Check back for more detail, right here on the blog, on Thursday morning.  The show is at 3pm but can be live-streamed here.

And in addition to the above outdoor spectacle, the Sackler Gallery will produce a heated tent in their adjacent Moongate Garden which will transport the visitor “to a Chinese Buddhist cave, where murals come alive with musicians, dancers and flying Bodhisatvas. “Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang,” on view Dec. 1—Dec. 9, is an immersive 3-D experience of one of the world’s ancient art treasures and a technological application never before seen in the United States.”  The real site has been cordoned off to visitors, so this is the only time and only way the curious will get to see the inside of one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.

For more on the origins of the Freer and Sackler, see the following from the galleries’ director:  “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 nineteenth century American art punctuated by James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room, perhaps one of the earliest (and certainly one of the most controversial) art installations on record.”

Stay tuned for more on the special events lined up for the galleries’ 25th anniversary.  It’s a good excuse to go down to the Mall, even in these cold winter months.

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