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The Archives holds 44 rare photonegative portraits of Cixi (1835–1908), the Qing empress dowager of China. Photographer Xunling, the son of the empress dowager's senior lady-in-waiting, may have been the only person ever permitted to photograph the empress dowager. More »

Freer and Sackler Archives

The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives is a manuscript and photograph repository dedicated to furthering the study of Asian and Middle Eastern art and culture, as well as turn-of-the-century American art. The Archives collects, preserves, and makes available documentary materials supporting the holdings and research activities of the two galleries and enabling scholars to analyze primary materials.

The Collections

The Archives houses more than 140 collections—amounting to over one thousand linear feet of materials—dating from the early nineteenth century to the present. Rich and diverse materials include the personal and professional papers of preeminent art historians, archaeologists, artists, dealers, and collectors, plus major collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century photography of Asia and the Middle East. The collections also include still and moving pictures, graphics, audio tapes, and other forms of documentation.

Collection highlights: Manuscripts and Papers
Collection highlights: Documentary Art and Photography

Accessing the Collections

Prior to contacting the Archives, we encourage researchers to first review our online records in the Smithsonian Collections Search Center, which has a complete list of our collections, as well as links to finding aids and highlighted objects. If specific information cannot be found through our online resources, or if you want to arrange an appointment, please contact us via our query form or telephone Archives staff at 202.633.0533.


We actively seek donations that support the collecting mission of the Archives. If you own items you believe would enhance our holdings, the Archives welcomes your inquiry. Because we are unable to accept all potential gifts, please do not send your collection until after you have contacted us. Please e-mail a brief description of the material, including the size of the collection, the media (photographs, letters, films, etc.), and any relevant background information. We will respond at the earliest opportunity.

The Archives cannot provide appraisals. Prospective donors who require or desire a monetary assessment are encouraged to contact an independent appraiser or any one of a number of appraisal societies, such as the American Society of Appraisers (800.272.8258).

Using the Collections

Archives Collection Highlights
Doing Archives Research

Online Resources

Archives Collection Finding Aids
A number of online finding aids, which are detailed descriptions of contents of selected collections.

Archives Collection Descriptions
An entire listing of our collections, with appropriate images and finding aids.

Archives Image Gallery
An online gallery space that allows you to browse a sampling of visual records.

Herzfeld Collection Papers
An online gallery space that consists of all cataloged material from the Ernst Herzfeld papers.

Herzfeld: Significant Archaeological Sites
Locations of significant archaeological sites and objects found in the Herzfeld papers.

Herzfeld: Samarra Resource Page
Online resources for researching the recently cataloged Samarra excavation from the Ernst Herzfeld papers.

Herzfeld: Squeeze Imaging Project
The Archives hold a significant collection of 393 squeezes from ancient archaeological sites in the Near East.

Sevruguin Resource Page
Sevruguin was one of the most successful commerical photographers in Iran.

Smithsonian Collections Search Center - the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) is a public database with archival and library holdings.

Smithsonian Collections Blog
Posts featuring collections across the Smithsonian's Archives, Libraries, and Special Collections.

Bento - Freer |Sackler Blog

F|S Archives on YouTube


The Archives is open by appointment only Monday through Thursday 10:00–5:00. Please contact us at 202.633.0533 or via our query form.

Visiting researchers must present a photo ID and agree to archives access regulations. More information

Research Queries

For more information or if you have a specific research question, contact us with our query form.

Letter and fax queries
Telephone reference service
Duplication services

The Archives cannot answer queries about the Freer and Sackler Galleries' art collections. These inquiries should be directed to publicAffairsAsia@si.edu

Citation and Copyright Rules

Copyright information
Permission to publish
Citation formats

Please note: The Freer Gallery of Art will be closed to the public from January 2016 until summer 2017. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Library, and Archives will remain open for the duration of the renovation. Learn more »