Julian Raby, the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, retired in January 2018. Richard Kurin is now acting director of the Freer|Sackler.
Julian Raby received his PhD from the University of Oxford (1981). At Oxford, he served as a university lecturer in Islamic art and architecture (1979–2006), chair of the curators of the Oriental Institute (1991–93, 1995–2000), and chair of the Board of the Faculty of Oriental Studies (1993–95), and he founded and edited the series Oxford Studies in Islamic Art.
Julian was appointed director of the Freer|Sackler in March 2002. During his tenure, he supervised more than sixty special exhibitions, including Return of the Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries (2004), Hokusai (2006), Garden and Cosmos (2008), Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in the Moscow Kremlin (2009), Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan (2011), Yoga: The Art of Transformation (2013), Peacock Room REMIX: Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre (2015), The Art of the Qur’an (2016), and Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered (2017). Julian has served as curator, concept designer, and consultant for numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including the landmark Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey at the Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul (1989) and Portraits of the Sultan: Picturing the House of Osman at the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul (2000). He is the author of numerous papers, articles, and books in the field of Islamic art, including Venice, Dürer and the Oriental Mode (1982), Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, The Foundation of a Court Style (1993), and Qajar Portraits (1999). Julian also oversaw the digitization of the Freer|Sackler’s collections, and he launched the museums’ first endowment campaign, raising $65 million for programs and personnel.
When he announced Julian’s retirement, Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton wrote: “Julian is a highly respected leader, both at the Smithsonian and in the museum community, and many people—myself included—have benefitted from his wisdom and guidance. I am grateful for his outstanding leadership at the Freer and Sackler Galleries and for everything he has done for the Smithsonian.”