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Future Exhibitions


Unearthing Arabia: The Archaeological Adventures of Wendell Phillips

October 11, 2014–June 7, 2015
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Wendell Phillips, a young paleontologist and geologist, headed one of the largest archaeological expeditions to remote South Arabia (present-day Yemen) from 1949 to 1951. Accompanied by some of the leading scholars, scientists, and technicians of the day, Phillips was on a quest to uncover two ancient cities—Timna, the capital of the once-prosperous Qataban kingdom, and Marib, the reputed home of the legendary Queen of Sheba—that had flourished along the fabled incense road some 2,500 years earlier. Through a selection of unearthed objects as well as film and photography shot by the expedition team, the exhibition highlights Phillips’s key finds, recreates his adventures (and misadventures), and conveys the thrill of discovery on this important great archaeological frontier.

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Fine Impressions: Whistler, Freer, and Venice

Opens October 18, 2014
Freer Gallery of Art, ground floor

In 1887, museum founder Charles Lang Freer purchased the entire Second Venice Set, twenty-six atmospheric etchings by James McNeill Whistler. This precipitous act marked the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between collector and artist, which eventually led to the founding of the Freer Gallery, today the world’s largest and finest repository of Whistler’s works. Fine Impressions shows how Freer’s acquisition of the Second Venice Set came to shape his legacy as a connoisseur and collector.

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Style in Chinese Landscape Painting: The Yuan Legacy

November 22, 2014–May 31, 2015
Freer Gallery of Art

Landscape painting is one of the most outstanding achievements of Chinese culture. Key styles in this genre emerged during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) and are still followed today. While surviving works from the Yuan are rare, whenever possible, this exhibition includes the earliest work in the Freer|Sackler collections together with later examples tracing the characteristics and evolution of six of these styles.

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The Traveler’s Eye: Scenes of Asia

November 22, 2014–May 31, 2015
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Travel shapes how we perceive the world. Long after a trip has ended, images made to guide, track, and represent travelers and their journeys continue to influence our views of other cultures and our own cultural identities. Featuring more than 100 works created over the past five centuries, The Traveler’s Eye: Scenes of Asia provides glimpses of travels across the Asian continent, from pilgrimages and research trips to expeditions for trade and tourism.

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Zen, Tea, and Chinese Art in Medieval Japan

December 13, 2014–June 14, 2015
Freer Gallery of Art

Zen Buddhism, tea, and ink painting—well-known expressions of Japanese culture—have their roots in Chinese arts and ideas brought to medieval Japan from the late twelfth to the sixteenth century. Devout Japanese and Chinese Buddhist monks brought the teachings of Chan Buddhism to Japan, where it was known as Zen Buddhism, and attracted the patronage of powerful warriors who ruled Japan as shoguns from 1192 to 1867. Prestigious Chinese art collected by Zen monasteries and their ruling-class patrons introduced new techniques, styles, and aesthetic ideas, transforming Japanese artistic expression. By the sixteenth century, arts and customs from Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasty China had been assimilated into Japanese culture, emerging as Japanese practices such as chanoyu, the art of tea. In this exhibition, Chinese and Japanese paintings, lacquer ware, and ceramics illuminate this remarkable period of cultural contact and synthesis.


Oribe Ware: Color and Pattern Come to Japanese Ceramics

December 13, 2014–June 14, 2015
Freer Gallery of Art

Invented in Japan in 1605, Oribe ware introduced vivid pattern and color to a ceramics tradition that had previously favored somber, monochrome designs. Oribe ware vessels were used primarily for serving food and drinking tea, and their sprightly patterns with glossy black or brilliant green glazes made them a shimmering addition to 17th-century dining trays and tearooms. A major technological advance in ceramics—the Motoyashiki multi-chamber climbing kiln, which allowed potters to melt glazes to dazzling translucency—made this radically new appearance possible. This exhibition highlights the best selections of Oribe ware in the Freer’s collection, including two new acquisitions on view for the first time.


Chinese Ceramics: 13th–14th Century

December 20, 2014—December 2015
Freer Gallery of Art

Ceramic production during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) reflects the strength of the international market demand for Chinese wares. Notably, celadon-glazed vessels from Longquan competed with porcelain objects from Jingdezhen, painted with innovative decoration in cobalt pigment. A dozen Chinese ceramics from the Freer collection show highlights of Yuan ceramic styles and complement the exhibition Style in Chinese Landscape Painting: The Yuan Legacy.


Filthy Lucre: Stories of Art and Money

May 16, 2015–November 29, 2016
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Filthy Lucre, an immersive interior by painter Darren Waterston, reinterprets James McNeill Whistler’s famed Peacock Room as a resplendent ruin, an aesthetic space that is literally overburdened by its own excesses—of materials, history, and creativity. Like the original Peacock Room, Filthy Lucre invites viewers to consider the complex relationships among art, money, and the passage of time.

Current Exhibitions

Nasta'liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy
September 13
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