Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer Gallery of Art, along with the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, forms the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Mediterranian and Asian art. The Freer contains art from the Mediterranian, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Muslim world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as American art. It is located on the south side of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and along with the Sackler Gallery, has an annual average of 900,000 visitors. The Freer adheres to the mission statement of the Smithsonian, which is to increase and diffuse knowledge through exhibitions, research, and publications. The Freer houses 25,518 objects spanning 6,000 years of history, including but not limited to ancient Egyptian stone sculpture and wooden objects, ancient Near Eastern ceramics and metalware, Chinese paintings and ceramics, Korean pottery and porcelain, Japanese ByÅbu, Persian manuscripts, and Buddhist sculpture. Collections span from the Neolithic to modern eras.

The gallery was founded by Charles Lang Freer (1854”“1919), a railroad-car manufacturer from Detroit, who gave his collections to the United States and also the funds to help construct a building for their display. The Italian-Renaissance-style gallery, constructed in granite and marble, was inspired by Freer's visits to palazzos in Italy and designed by the American architect Charles A. Platt. The gallery opened to the public in 1923 as the first Smithsonian museum dedicated to the fine arts. The Freer was also the first Smithsonian museum created from a private collector's bequest. Freer's bequest to the Smithsonian came with the proviso that he would execute full curatorial control over the collection until his death. The Smithsonian initially hesitated at the requirements but the intercession of President Theodore Roosevelt allowed for the project to proceed. The Freer Gallery possesses an autographed letter from Roosevelt inviting Freer to visit him at the White House, reflecting the personal interest Roosevelt showed in the development of the museum. Through the years, the collections have grown through gifts and purchases to nearly triple the size of Freer's bequest. The Freer Gallery is connected by an underground exhibition space to the neighboring Sackler Gallery. Although their collections are stored and exhibited separately, the two museums share a director, administration, and staff.

American art at the Freer
Freer began collecting American art in the 1880s. In 1890, after meeting James Abbott McNeill Whistler, an American artist influenced by Japanese prints and Chinese ceramics, Freer began to expand his collections to include Asian art. He maintained his interest in American art, however, amassing a collection of over 1,300 works by Whistler, which is considered the world's finest. One of the most well-known exhibits at the Freer is the Peacock Room, an opulent London dining room painted by Whistler in 1876”“77. The room was designed for British shipping magnate F.R. Leyland and is lavishly decorated with green and gold peacock motifs. Purchased by Freer in 1904 and installed in the Freer Gallery after his death, the Peacock Room is on permanent display. The Freer also has works by Thomas Dewing (1851”“1938), Dwight Tryon (1849”“1925), Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849”“1921), Childe Hassam (1859”“1935), Winslow Homer (1836”“1910), Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848”“1907), Willard Metcalf (1858”“1925), John Singer Sargent (1856”“1925), and John Twachtman (1853”“1902).

Archives and Research
The Archives of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery houses over 120 important manuscripts collections relevant to the study of America's encounter with Asian art and culture. The core collection is the personal papers of gallery founder Charles Lang Freer, which includes his purchase records, diaries, and personal correspondence with public figures such as artists, dealers and collectors. Freer's extensive correspondence with James McNeill Whistler forms one of the largest sources of primary documents about the American artist. Other significant collections in the Archives includes the papers (notebooks, letters, photography, squeezes) and personal objects of the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld (1879”“1946), documenting his research at Samarra, Persepolis and Pasargadae. The papers of Carl Whiting Bishop, Dwight William Tryon, Myron Bement Smith, Benjamin March and Henri Vever are also located at the Archives. The Archives also holds over 125,000 photographs of Asia dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Highlights of photographic holdings include the Henry and Nancy Rosin Collection of 19th century photography of Japan, the 1903-1904 photographs of the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi, and photographs of Iran by Antoin Sevruguin.

Public Programs
The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Auditorium, located in the Freer, provides a venue for a broad variety of free public programs relating to the collections of the Freer and Sackler galleries, including concerts of Asian music and dance, films, lectures, chamber music, and dramatic presentations. The Freer Gallery has also hosted several "Asia After Dark" Parties. In 2009, the Gallery worked with the Pink Line Project to put on Asia After Dark: Peacock Shock, and they worked together again in 2010 to host Asia After Dark: Asian Pop Rock.

Care of the collections began before the museum came into existence as Charles Lang Freer, the founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, hired Japanese painting restorers to care for his works and to prepare them for their eventual home as part of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1932, the Freer Gallery of Art hired a full-time Japanese restorer and created what was to become the East Asian Painting Conservation Studio. The Technical Laboratory, and the first use of scientific methods for the study of art at the Smithsonian Institution, started in 1951 when the chemist Rutherford J. Gettens moved from the Fogg Museum at Harvard University to the Freer. The East Asian Painting Conservation Studio and the Technical Laboratory merged in 1990 to form the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research .










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