Visiting the Archives

The Archives’ holdings are available to museum staff, scholars, and the general public. Most collections are open to researchers, although access to some material may be restricted.

Before visiting, researchers must call the Archives at 202.633.0533 to arrange an appointment. The research room is open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on national holidays).

Upon arrival, all researchers are asked to present photo identification, such as a driver’s license or student ID. Researchers are required to review the Archives’ rules governing access and use and agree to abide by them by completing and signing a registration form.

Smoking, eating, and drinking are not permitted, nor are coats, briefcases, and similar materials allowed in the research area. The Archives provides researchers with lockers for storage of personal items. Laptop computers and other recording equipment are only permitted in the research area if they do not disrupt other researchers.


Duplication Services

Researchers are permitted, with the archivist’s approval and supervision, to duplicate documents not likely to be damaged by the process. A photocopier is available at a charge of 10¢ per copy. Staff will provide up to twenty photocopies for researchers unable to visit the Archives. For larger requests, the researcher (or a proxy) must visit the Archives to photocopy the desired documents.

Researchers may bring a handheld digital camera into the Archives to photograph items. Staff will provide a transparency stating the Archives’ ownership of the item, which must be placed over the item to be photographed. The flash must be turned off. Archives staff can also provide low-resolution digital images of documents. Researchers are charged 50¢ for each digital file, which covers photographing, correcting, formatting, and emailing. CDs can be made for $1 each. Researchers must agree to use digital images solely for personal research.


Reference Services

E-Mail Reference

The Archives accepts brief reference queries via our query form. Please state your request as clearly and specifically as possible. Include names, locations, or dates relevant to your research.

Please note that the Archives does not house any items from the museums’ permanent art collections. All inquiries regarding art objects should be directed to asiainfo@si.edu.

Reference Letters or Faxes

The Archives also accepts brief reference queries sent by mail or fax. Please state your request as clearly and specifically as possible. Include names, locations, or dates relevant to your research. Remember to include your full postal mailing address and telephone number. Reference letters may be faxed to 202.357.4911 or mailed to:

Reference Archivist
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Room 2062, MRC 707
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Telephone Reference Service

The Archives also accepts brief reference queries by phone. Please call 202.633.0533 to speak to an archivist or to leave a message. When leaving a voicemail, please state your request as clearly and specifically as possible, and note any names, locations, or dates relevant to your research.


Publications

There are a number of publications describing Archives collections. In 1992, Smithsonian Institution Press published the Guide to Photographic Collections at the Smithsonian Institution, volume III, to describe the Archives’ photographic holdings. Further description of the Herzfeld Papers appeared in the Bulletin of the Asia Institute 6 (1992): 131–41, in an article by Colleen Hennessey titled “The Ernst Herzfeld Papers at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.” Lily Kecskes described rare images of Cixi, the Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty, in her article “Photographs of Tz’u-hsi in the Freer Gallery Archives” for the Committee on East Asian Libraries Bulletin 101 (December 1993): 87–92.


Citation and Copyright Rules

Copyright

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The Archives often does not own rights to the material in its collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions (such as donor restrictions, privacy rights, licensing, and trademarks) when publishing or otherwise distributing the materials. The web site of the United States Copyright Office at the Library of Congress contains valuable and extensive information regarding United States Copyright Law.

Permission

Permission to reproduce and publish an item from the Archives is coordinated through the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s Rights and Reproductions Department. Please contact the Archives in order to initiate this process. In order to facilitate your order, please have the following information:

  • collection name
  • title or description of item
  • photographer and negative number, if applicable

Citations

All citations must include information in the following format:

Collection name
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Donor(s) or source(s) of collection, year(s) of acquisition (when applicable)
Photographer and negative number

The following is an example of the correct format and content for a citation to a collection in the Archives:

Myron Bement Smith Collection
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
Gift of Katharine Dennis Smith, 1973–85
Photographer: Antoin Sevruguin, negative number 2.07