Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
May 6, 2003
The big highlight of the collection is James McNeil Whistler's Peacock Room which has been rebuilt within the Freer Gallery. And despite the Asian Focus of this museum, the Freer Gallery has an impressive collection of American Art, including some 1,300 pieces by Whistler (not all of which are on display). Whistler encouraged Freer to expand his art holdings into Asian Art, and was likely the cause of Freer's interest in the art. But Freer also collected American Artists.
The Peacock Room, titled "Harmony in Blue and Gold" is a dining room designed and painted by Whistler, and it includes an oriental porceline collection. It can be thought of as an early "Installation". It is in many ways the centerpiece of the Freer collection.
There are a fascinating collection of Biblican Manuscripts, Japanese, Chinese and Southeast Asian Art, as well as South Asian Art. Some is in the Sackler Gallery and some in the Freer Gallery. They are in many ways an organic whole.
Sackler and Freer Galleries are tucked away on the mall just southeast of the Washington Monument.
The closest metro station to the Sackler and Freer Galleries is the Smithsonian Exit on the Red Line. Exit Toward the Mall, and head toward the Washington Monument. The museums will be on your left.
From journal Wonderful Washington DC
New York, New York
January 31, 2003
From journal Weekend in Washington, DC
July 29, 2002
Not many tourists realize it, but there’s a whole miniature world to explore in a three-level subterranean complex of museums below the Enid Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Enter any of the museums at street level and visit all four interconnecting areas: The National Museum of African Art, The Dillon S. Ripley Center (housing occasional expositions), the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the Freer Gallery of Art. On a hot day, this can be a real boon, not to mention that these places are seldom crowded even during peak season. Admittedly, the Asian and African art housed in these collections has less draw than, say, the two-ton African elephant in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum. However, I make it a point to visit one of the delightful "underground museums" every time I visit the Mall.
Recently, I went to see a much-heralded new exhibit at the Sackler Gallery, "The Adventures of Hamza", and found I had the exhibit practically to myself. And what a show it was! In the 16th century, the Mughal emperor Akbar commissioned vast artistic projects, one of which was over 1,200 illustrated folios devoted to tales of Hamza, the Muslim hero whose adventures are central to Islamic storytelling.
Now, I will confess that while I like Islamic art that I knew little about the Mughal dynasty and even less about Hamza. I was so beguiled by the 61 folios in the exhibit, however, that I spent well over an hour eagerly reading each one’s description. The manuscripts, unlike Persian miniatures, are atypically large and are flamboyant not only in subject matter but also in color and composition. I can honestly say I’d never seen anything quite like them. Before leaving the Sackler, I stopped at its irresistible museum shop and indulged in a little Mughal mania, scooping up two books on Mughal art, several prints of my favorite Hamza paintings, and even some Sufi devotional music.
My head still swimming from the visual Hamza feast, I wasn’t yet finished with Asian art for the day. Adjoining the Sackler (and administered by a shared staff) is my favorite Mall museum, the Freer Gallery. Now, there are many things I love about the Freer, but the thing relevant to this discussion of paper objects is the Freer’s fine collection of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and scroll paintings. Of all the cultures in the world, I suspect the Chinese and Japanese have the strongest appreciation for the paper arts. Happily, at the Freer the collection is displayed with an unfailing sense of placement, lighting, and balance. Objects seem detached, floating in their own space, yet simultaneously resonating with the surrounding objects. After experiencing the dizzying richness of the Hamza exhibit, a few moments contemplating the "Year of the Horse" display restored my mental equilibrium.
From journal Paper Chase
Washington, District of Columbia
March 8, 2001
From journal Muslim insider's guide to Washington DC area