Freer Thinking Podcast

Have you ever wondered how Buddhism and rock music relate? Do you think of an apocalypse when you gaze at a lush courtyard? Listen and learn to “think freer” about the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, our collections, and the big ideas they provoke.


Japanese buildings burning

Apocalypse in the Museum

How do we deal with a world that seems to be collapsing around us? Explore how different societies have used art to make sense of disaster and to protect themselves from perceived chaos.

seated men in room

Mind Your Manners

It’s often said that cooking is an art. But what can art tell us about cooking? Hear about food etiquette in medieval Iran, tea-drinking in Japan, the development of wine in Eurasia, and artist James McNeill Whistler’s distinctive breakfast parties.

Director Julian Raby

Pompous Director’s Tour

Join us for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Freer|Sackler with Julian Raby, director from 2002–17. This episode takes you to some of Julian’s favorite spots in the museums and provides a glimpse at the man behind the suit and tie.

wooden statue

Detail, Bodhisattva White Avalokiteshvara (Amoghapasha Lokeshvara); F2000.5

Buddhism and the Beat

What connects Buddhism and rock music? Buddhism expert and professor Donald Lopez takes us on a personal, musical journey from the Beatles to bodhisattvas and from Bowie to the Bardo, the transitional space between death and rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism.

* This podcast currently is only available while visiting the Freer|Sackler.