Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia

Gallery 22

Buddhism—and the art it inspired—helped shape the cultures of Asia. Today, its extraordinary art is a source of beauty and contemplation for audiences across the world.

Encountering the Buddha brings together more than two hundred artworks, spanning two millennia, to explore Asia’s rich Buddhist heritage. They represent diverse schools that arose from the Buddha’s teachings.

Throughout the exhibition and the website, we explore how Buddhist artworks are endowed with sacred power. We ask, why were they created? How did Buddhists engage with them? And how do Buddhist understandings of such objects differ from those of art museums?

While pursuing answers, we highlight different contexts: grand shrines, intimate altars, royal palaces, artists’ workshops, and treacherous pilgrimage routes. All are sites for encountering the Buddha.

Our website features highlights from Encountering the Buddha and previews of its immersive installations, as well as links to the apps and podcasts created especially for the exhibition. Information on museum programs and resources for further learning are also included. We’ll be expanding resources and updating our program details on a regular basis; please stay tuned!

Freer|Sackler gratefully acknowledges the exhibition’s lead sponsor

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation logo

Established in 2005, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation based in Hong Kong. The Foundation’s mission is to foster appreciation of Chinese arts and culture to advance global learning and to cultivate deeper understanding of Buddhism in the context of contemporary life. The Foundation supports the development of a global Buddhist learning network as well as collaborative and innovative programmes that present Buddhist art in a fresh light.

This project received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Additional funding provided by the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation

The Freer|Sackler is grateful for the contributions of University of Michigan Humanities Collaboratory and the Multidisciplinary Design Program.