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Scholarly Programs


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Symposia & Conferences


The Word Illuminated: Form and Function of Qur'anic Manuscripts

Thursday–Saturday, December 1–3
Turkish Embassy and Ripley Center Lecture Hall

Costly paper, finely tooled bindings, special scripts, and intricate illumination are among the characteristics that distinguish the manuscripts in The Art of the Qur’an. In this symposium, investigate the materiality of luxury copies of the Qur’an made between the eighth and the seventeenth century from Herat to Istanbul. Also learn about the complex and layered significance these Qur’ans acquired as they changed ownership. Speakers examine the volumes in their historical, cultural, and artistic contexts and discuss their use as potent symbols of piety and political and religious authority. The symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and is made possible in part through the support of the El-Hibri Foundation.

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Upcoming Programs


Chinese Object Study Workshops


Sophisticated visual analysis is a hallmark of art history and depends on skills acquired through the direct study of objects. These skills must be taught and practiced. Yet as graduate art history curricula have expanded to include training in methodology, historiography, and theory, training in object study has all but disappeared. The problem is exacerbated for students of Chinese art history, whose graduate curricula must also include language courses and related subjects such as religion, literature, and history.

Chinese Object Study Workshopsis a program that provides graduate students in Chinese art history an immersive experience in the study of objects. The week-long workshops will help students develop the skills necessary for working with objects, introduce them to conservation issues not readily encountered in typical graduate art history curricula, and familiarize them with important American museum collections.

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Past Events

In the Dig House: Behind the Scenes in Archaeology
April 25, 2015

Whistler and Kiyochika: Modernity, Melancholy, and the Nocturne
May 14, 2014

Whistler Object Study Workshop
June 9–12, 2014

Medical and Modern Yoga
January 11, 2014

Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium
November 21–23, 2013

The Legacy of Cyrus the Great: Iran and Beyond
April 27, 2013

Crossroads of Culture: The Archaeology of Saudi Arabia
November 17, 2012

The Art of Itō Jakuchū
March 30, 2012

Imperial Exposure: Early Photography and Royal Portraits across Asia
December 5–6, 2011

Palaces of Art: Whistler and the Art Worlds of Aestheticism
October 27–28, 2011

Art and Material Culture of the Northern Qi Period
June 3–5, 2011

Piety, Poetry, and Politics: Sufi Muslims in South Asia
April 28–30, 2011

Historians Of Islamic Art Association (HIAA) Second Biennial Symposium: "Objects, Collections, And Cultures"
October 21–23, 2010

Forbes Symposium
October 28–29, 2010

We are excited to reopen the Freer on October 7, 2017, following a renovation to allow us to better present our art and serve our visitors.
The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC.