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images from the future exhibition Echoes of the Past

Past Research Collaborations

Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan opened at the Sackler on February 26, 2011. Keith Wilson, curator of ancient Chinese art, and project specialist Daisy Wang collaborated with colleagues in the University of Chicago's art history department and the Smart Museum of Art to present this exhibition.

The temples of Xiangtangshan were once home to a magnificent array of sculptures--monumental Buddhas, divine attendant figures, and crouching monsters framed by floral motifs. They were severely damaged in the first half of the twentieth century, when their contents were chiseled away and offered for sale on the international art market. Based on ongoing research by a large team of art historians and archaeologists in China and elsewhere, Echoes of the Past brought together sixth-century sculpture with 3D imaging technology to digitally re-create the appearance of some of the caves. The Sackler presentation enabled visitors to follow the caves' layout, exploring the beauty and density of the sculptures, the significance of their placement in groups, and the site's organization and religious function.

Major funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Leon Levy Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. The catalogue was made possible by Fred Eychaner and Tommy Yang Guo, with additional support from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund. The Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research provided additional support for the Sackler Gallery presentation.

Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies

The Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies is dedicated to nurturing, producing, and disseminating original scholarship and critical analysis of James McNeill Whistler and his international artistic circles. The consortium members are the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Colby College Museum of Art, and the University of Glasgow.

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Louise Cort, curator of ceramics, and Joyce White, associate curator for Asia at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, are spearheading a joint project to improve the study of ceramics in Southeast Asia. They co-hosted a five-day workshop in November 2010, bringing international scholars of Southeast Asian archaeology and ceramics to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia for collaborative examination of the Freer and Penn Museum collections. Topics covered included study methodologies, accessibility of data, and other key issues. The workshop was intended to identify critical research topics and lay the groundwork for future research collaborations among the participants, at least one third of whom will come from Southeast Asia. Generous support for the project was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania.

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Read about some of the research now underway by our curators. More info »


Learn more about current, future and past exhibitions at the Freer and Sackler, and explore interactive features based on past exhibitions. More info »


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As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.