The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington comprise the Smithsonian Institution’s national museums of Asian art. The Freer Gallery opened to the public in 1923, and the Sackler Gallery welcomed its first visitors in 1987. The two museums are physically connected by an underground passageway and ideologically linked through the study, exhibition, and preservation of Asian art. In addition, the Freer Gallery contains an important collection of nineteenth-century American art featuring James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room, perhaps one of the earliest art installations on record.
This book features work from both museums: American, Ancient Near East, Chinese, Indian, Islamic World, Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian, including ceramics, biblical manuscripts, photography, and other works of art. Each object or group of objects is accompanied by a brief description of its art historical significance or surprising or little-known aspects of its history.