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October 10, 2012
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Allison Peck, 202.633.0447
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Freer and Sackler Archives Finds New Audiences with Google Cultural Institute


New Online Exhibition Platform Showcases Imperial Portraits and the Start of America’s Pacific Century

The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is one of 17 partners to collaborate with the Google Cultural Institute on an initiative to promote history, culture and art online. The project provides visitors the chance to see close-up views of largely unseen archival materials—including letters, photos, videos and manuscripts—relating to some of the most important events in the 20th century.

The Freer and Sackler galleries are the first Smithsonian museums to participate in Google’s latest venture, following the Google Art Project in 2011. The museum’s inaugural offering, “Imperial Portraits,” is the first in a series highlighting the 1905 Taft Mission to Asia—a three-month diplomatic trip led by Secretary of War William Howard Taft to China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines—an event that transformed the United States’ diplomatic and military presence in Asia. The exhibition includes photographic portraits given to tour-member Alice Roosevelt, the eldest daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, by Asian heads of state who sought to sway global events through personal diplomatic exchange.

“Google’s new curation tool has proved invaluable in allowing us to share this little-known yet incredibly important historical event with audiences who may never be able to see the documents firsthand,” said David Hogge, head archivist of the Freer and Sackler galleries and curator of the online exhibition.

The Freer and Sackler Archives contributed approximately 74 historical items from a collection of photography given to the archives in 2010 by the granddaughter of Alice Roosevelt, Joanna Sturm. The online platform allows users to see the metadata accompanying each image and the ability to see rich details with deep-zoom technology.

In 2010, the Google Art Project featured the Freer Gallery’s James McNeill Whistler painting, “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain,” in stunning gigapixel technology.

“We are as delighted to be a part of the launch of Google’s Archive Project as we were in 2011 when we were one of only 17 museums to be included in Google Art Project,” said Julian Raby, The Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art.

The archival materials can be found at google.com/culturalinstitute.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which houses the Archives, is located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, is located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W.; both are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other public events, including other special programs to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sackler Gallery in 2012, visit www.asia.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.

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