For the Buddhist Art Collector: Freer and Sackler Galleries
Conservation and Scientific Research

Through conservation and scientific research, the department contributes to the overall efforts of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to achieve the highest standards for the collection, preservation, study, and exhibition of Asian art.

Care of the collections began before the museum came into existence as Charles Lang Freer, the founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, hired Japanese painting restorers to care for his works and to prepare them for their eventual home as part of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1932, the Freer Gallery of Art hired a full-time Japanese restorer and created what was to become the East Asian Painting Conservation Studio. The Technical Laboratory, and the first use of scientific methods for the study of art at the Smithsonian Institution, started in 1951 when the chemist Rutherford J. Gettens moved from the Fogg Museum at Harvard University to the Freer. The East Asian Painting Conservation Studio and the Technical Laboratory merged in 1990 to form the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research.

A permanent staff of fourteen works hand-in-hand with a large, changing group of term employees, contract workers, fellows, interns, and visiting scholars. (See staff list). Our work is focused on three areas: conservation of the Freer and Sackler collections, the use of scientific methods of research for the study of Asian art, and educational efforts, particularly in the field of East Asian painting conservation.

Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas
Sculpture of South and Southeast Asia • Continues indefinitely

Freer Gallery of Art — "I am over my head in love with India!" said Charles Lang Freer, founder of the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art, in an 1894 letter he wrote home from his first trip to the subcontinent. Now, visitors to the gallery will be able to share in Mr. Freer's enthusiasm when the gallery inaugurates a new long-term installation, showcasing the extraordinary range of South Asian and Himalayan art in the collection—considered to be among the most important in the world. "Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas" remains open indefinitely, with periodic rotations of light-sensitive objects. Increasing by half the space previously devoted to this region and expanding the scope of works on view, the exhibition includes sublimely beautiful Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and Islamic objects, as well as masterpieces of Mughal and Rajput paintings and lavishly decorated court arts and daggers made for the Mughal emperors. Divided into several sections, the Buddhist art charts the emergence of the Buddha image in India and its transmission throughout Asia and includes fine Buddhist images from Nepal, Tibet, Southeast Asia and China.

Sculpture of South and Southeast Asia
Continuing Indefinitely • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

A group of 10th- to 13th-century Cambodian stone sculptures complements a display of Hindu stone, bronze, brass, and terra-cotta sculptures from South India dating from the 8th through the 14th century.

Tours Talks & Lectures

Religions of Asia
Thursday, May 25, 2006, 1:15 pm

Docents familiarize visitors with three of the major religions represented on the continent of Asia. Visitors discuss key principles and practices associated with each religion and visually explore the iconography and formal elements significant to its art. Meet at the Freer info desk.
Contemplating Buddhism in Early 20 C. America
Saturday, June 3, 2006, 2 pm

Meyer Auditorium, Pre-lecture gallery tour, 1:15 pm.
Step back in time with Professor Thomas A. Tweed, author of The American Encounter with Buddhism 1844–1912, and actor Jonathan Watkins, resident artist at the Folger Shakespeare Library, to explore the appeal of Buddhism in the United States at the turn of the century. Deputy Director James Ulak introduces the program and moderates a question-and-answer session.

Freer's Gift
Saturday, May 20, 2006, 11:15 am
Discover how Charles Lang Freer's understanding of Asian and American art shaped his personal collection and his vision for the first art gallery on the National Mall. Meet at the Freer information desk.
       Admiring the Art of India and South Asia
Tuesday, July 11, 2006, 12 pm
Freer galleries 1 & 2
Debra Diamond, associate curator of South and Southeast Asian art, discusses Freer's love of India and his small collection of South Asian art, with a special focus on the delightfully illustrated manuscript that has become known as "The Freer Ramayana."

Images © Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery • Smithsonian Institution • Washington, D.C

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