We draw on cultural traditions from across Asia in festivals and events that bring the museums to life for visitors of all ages. Immerse yourself in celebrations featuring art, music, theater, dance, and food that highlight local and international artists and communities.

Detail, Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, on view in Encountering the BuddhaBuddhist Journeys

Saturday, December 9, 11 am–4 pm

Join us for a rich day of activities for all ages, exploring aspects of Buddhist art and practice as we celebrate the new exhibitions Encountering the Buddha and Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha. Be transported on a journey across the Buddhist world, from India to China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and beyond. Experience timeless artworks, hear inspiring musical performances by members of the Silkroad Ensemble, listen to stories from the life of the Buddha, and trace the paths of Buddhist journeys past and present.


Flavors of the Himalayas: Chef Dorjee Tsering of Dorjee Momo
11 am–4 pm
Sackler, level B2, ImaginAsia Studio

In celebration of the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room on view in Encountering the Buddha, sample classic Himalayan dishes from DC’s own Dorjee Momo! Plus, hear chef Dorjee Tsering describe his culinary inspirations at 12 and 3 pm.


Along the Silk Road Featuring Members of the Silkroad Ensemble
11 am
Freer, Meyer Auditorium

Silkroad Ensemble members share worldwide musical traditions in this engaging, family-friendly program, introducing instruments from the historical Silk Road region and beyond. With stories and performances, this workshop explores the common cultural roots that connect us to our neighbors around the globe. Featured artists are Syrian-born clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, bassist Jeffrey Beecher, violist Nicholas Cords, percussionists Shane Shanahan and Haruka Fujii, and Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle).

Stories of the Buddha: Jataka Tales by Rafe Martin
11:30 am and 1 pm
Sackler, level B2, gallery 28

Enter a fantastic world as master storyteller Rafe Martin brings to life the classic jataka tales, Buddhist stories told and retold round the globe for the last twenty-five hundred years. Each story explores how the Buddha became wiser and kinder by taking on the persona of an animal or by embodying a spirit, such as that of a tree, king, god, or acrobat. Perfect for visitors of all ages, especially children aged 5–9.

Silkroad Ensemble Pop-Up Performances: Buddhist Journeys
12–1 and 2–4 pm

Members of the famed Silkroad Ensemble explore musical responses to Encountering the Buddha and the Freer’s exhibitions of Buddhist art in spaces throughout the museums. Featured artists are Syrian-born clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, bassist Jeffrey Beecher, violist Nicholas Cords, percussionists Shane Shanahan and Haruka Fujii, and Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle). Musical walks begin at 2 and 3:30 pm in the lobby in front of the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium.


Buddhist Book Fair
2–4 pm
Sackler, level B1, shop

Drop by the museum shop to browse new books related to Buddhist art and cultural traditions, and get your copies signed by eleven authors! Featured titles include Paths to Perfection: Buddhist Art at the Freer|Sackler, Hyecho’s Journey: The World of Buddhism, and a selection of Buddhist books by Rafe Martin.

Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia
Sackler, gallery 22

Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha
Sackler, gallery 26


Meet the Curator
11 am, 12 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3 pm
Sackler, level B1

Discover the themes and stories behind new installations of Buddhist art in these in-gallery conversations with curators, conservators, and scholars.

  • 11 am: Encountering the Buddha with Rebecca Bloom, gallery 22
  • 12 pm: Encountering the Buddha with Robert DeCaroli, gallery 22
  • 2:30 pm: Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha with Donna Strahan, gallery 26
  • 3 pm: Encountering the Buddha with Debra Diamond, gallery 22

Conversation: Hyecho’s Journey: The World of Buddhism
1 pm
Freer, Meyer Auditorium

Join us for a conversation about Hyecho’s Journey: The World of Buddhism. This exciting new book recreates the journey of Hyecho, an eighth-century Korean monk who traveled across the Buddhist world, through artworks from the Freer|Sackler collections. Lead author and noted Buddhist scholar Donald Lopez will introduce the book and moderate a roundtable with coauthors Kevin Carr, Carla Sinopoli, Chun Wa Chan, Ha Nul Jun, and Rebecca Bloom.

Pop-Up Resources for Educators
1–4 pm
Sackler pavilion

Calling all educators! Stop by an educators’ resources table to learn about the Freer|Sackler’s digital and print materials. Pick up a lesson plan related to Buddhism that you can use in your classroom.


Hyecho’s Journey: The App
11 am–12:30 pm and 2–3 pm
Sackler, gallery 22

Try out a new app that lets you virtually travel in the footsteps of Hyecho, an eighth-century Buddhist monk, created by students from the University of Michigan Humanities Collaboratory. Meet the app designers in person and learn about how these students created this digital resource.

Museum Explorer’s Passport
11 am–4 pm
Sackler, level B1, lobby

Make your own passport, and then set out on a journey across Asia like explorers of the past—all without leaving the Freer|Sackler! Start in the Sackler level B1 lobby to create your passport and pick up a map. Then, discover close-looking and hands-on activities for all ages throughout the museums.