About Us

Welcome to the Freer|Sackler

Asia meets America at the Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art. Located on the National Mall in Washington, DC, our museums serve as an international crossroads and a global destination. We care for one of the world’s most important collections of Asian art, with more than forty thousand objects—and counting—dating from the Neolithic period to today. Masterpieces from China, Japan, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, the ancient Near East, and the Islamic world are complemented by a significant group of American artworks of the Aesthetic movement, including the famed Peacock Room. Drawing on its groundbreaking scholarship and rich collections, as well as significant loans, the Freer|Sackler creates innovative exhibitions that celebrate differences, transform perceptions, and spark connections.

We invite you to travel from America to Asia with our exquisite artworks, foundational research, and dynamic programs. Through both quiet contemplation and joyous celebration, experience the Freer|Sackler’s unique ability to generate empathy across cultures.


Our History

Two Smithsonian museums unite in the Freer|Sackler: the Freer Gallery of Art, which opened to the public in 1923, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which first welcomed visitors in 1987. Detroit businessman Charles Lang Freer and President Theodore Roosevelt saw in Asia an emerging force deserving of study and respect, and in 1906, Freer gave the nation his holdings of Asian and American art. Named for Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, the Sackler Gallery is an essential counterpoint to the Freer, showcasing his exemplary collections and allowing us to host special exhibitions of Asian art.

For those who have the power to see beauty . . . all works of art go together
—Charles Lang Freer

Great art and culture belongs to all mankind
—Arthur M. Sackler


Why Asia and America?

In 1890, Charles Lang Freer paid an unannounced call to artist James McNeill Whistler’s London studio. The two men would establish a long and fruitful partnership. Freer ultimately collected more than one thousand artworks by Whistler—including the Peacock Room—as well as significant holdings of work by other late nineteenth-century American artists.

Fascinated by the arts and cultures of Asia, Whistler also turned Freer’s attention East. By 1906, Freer had added a considerable number of Asian art and objects to his American collections. He came to share Whistler’s belief that the history of art was a “story of the beautiful” that transcended time and place. And when Freer conceived of a museum for his collections, he envisioned it as a monument to the “points of contact” between ancient and modern, East and West. We uphold this vision today, allowing the universality of art to connect us all.


Staff

Meet the world-class people behind our world-class museums.


Public Programs

Freer|Sackler public programs illuminate where Asia meets America, stimulating curiosity and transforming perceptions. Learn, explore, and enjoy through our robust lineup of free films, performances, talks, tours, family programs, scholarly programs, workshops, and celebrations.


Library and Archives

The Freer|Sackler Library, one of the finest Asian art research libraries in the United States, contains approximately eighty-six thousand volumes, including nearly two thousand rare books. The Freer|Sackler Archives collects, preserves, and makes available documentary materials that support the museums’ holdings and research.


Conservation

The Freer|Sackler’s Department of Conservation and Scientific Research is the nation’s foremost center for the care and scientific study of Asian art. Our scientists and conservators strive to research materials, improve methods of preservation, and educate others in conservation practices.


Publications

Freer|Sackler publications share our collections, exhibitions, and research with audiences worldwide. Among them are award-winning cataloguesbooks, and the renowned academic journal Ars Orientalis.