Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue SW, is one of the two National Museums of Asian Art that are part of the Smithsonian Institution, the other being the Freer Gallery. Both galleries are on the National Mall, the area between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, and are connected by three underground levels of exhibition space. The Sackler Gallery was established in 1982 with a gift of $4 million for its construction and a primary collection from Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, a research physician and medical publisher in New York City. His collection of over 1,000 artifacts includes Chinese jade from the Neolithic ages to the 19th century; bronze from the Shang through the Han dynasties; paintings, calligraphy, and lacquerware; metal ware and ceramics from the Near East, and wood, stone, and clay sculpture from South and Southeast Asia.

In 1986, the Gallery purchased the Vever collection of Persian and Indian manuscripts, paintings, and bookbindings for exhibition. Other acquisitions by the Gallery through the years include objects of Islamic history dating from the 11th to the 19th century, and Japanese 19th and 20th century prints and porcelain, as well as Chinese, Korean, Tibetan, and Indian village artifacts, paintings, and photographs. Dr. Paul Singer donated an extensive collection of over 4,000 objects of Chinese art to the Sackler Gallery in 1999. In addition to displays of Mesopotamian art from the Louvre, other international and traveling exhibitions on loan to the Sackler Gallery have included Persian Art and Culture, paintings by the 14-year old Chinese artist Yani, Egyptian artifacts, and Korean 18th century art.

Upcoming exhibitions planned for the Gallery include Portugal as an early world trading empire with Asia, India, and South America, and the Middle Eastern traditions and human interaction with nature, time, and space. The Gallery will also feature the Japanese art and artwork of making tea, known as chanoyu, in their tea bowls, water jars, and pottery. These items, inscribed with the artisan’s mark and botanical designs, along with scrolls and paintings from the Price collection, highlight the Japanese Edo period from the 17th — 19th centuries. In addition to Jakuchu’s impressions of animal life, other displays will feature the 61 royal paintings and silk tent from the desert palace at Nagaur from the Jodhpur collection, the philosophy of yoga, and the garden pastimes of the Hindu deities Krishna and Rama.

As a National Museum for Asian Art, the Sackler participates in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, celebrating Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the US, held in March to April each year in DC. Other workshops with Japanese anime artists, programs, benefits, and lectures are sponsored throughout the year, as well. Imaginasia workshops and family programs, sponsored by the Sackler Gallery, are open to children six to fourteen when accompanied by an adult. With the use of an activity book, children can explore an exhibit and develop an idea for an art project such as wood blocking, calligraphy, poetry, or anime to take home. The Gallery also supports the Artibus Asiae journal, published in cooperation with the Rietburg Museum in Zurich.
Through education, research, and its extensive collections, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery continues to promote a better understanding and appreciation of Asian art and culture to over 600,000 visitors each year.

Admission: Free
Hours: Open daily 10:00 a.m. — 5:30 p.m, extended hours during the summer. Closed December 25.
Tours: Every day except Wednesday at 12:15 a.m. Free.

(Handicap accessible at the Freer Gallery entrance, Independence & 12th Street.)

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