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Scholarly Programs


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Symposia & Conferences


Sōtatsu in Washington: Insights, Discoveries, and Reflections

Freer, Meyer Auditorium
Saturday, October 24, 2–5:30 pm

Sōtatsu: Making Waves is the first comprehensive exposition of the art of Tawaraya Sōtatsu (active circa 1600–1640) in a Western museum. The exhibition also provides the first opportunity to see notable Sōtatsu paintings acquired by Charles Lang Freer alongside other important Sōtatsu works from world collections. In this colloquium, the international scholars who conceived and developed the exhibition summarize their contributions to the project and share insights garnered from this extensive undertaking.

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Sōtatsu's Times: Perspectives on the Culture and Politics of Kyoto

Freer, Meyer Auditorium
Saturday, December 5, 10 am–5 pm

In this symposium, scholars from several disciplines discuss the social history, literature, religion, art, and patronage that shaped Sōtatsu's work and life. Speakers include Mary Elizabeth Berry on Kyoto's social history, Joshua S. Mostow on the Tales of Ise, Morgan Pitelka on Kyoto culture in the early seventeenth century, Tomoko Sakomura on Sōtatsu’s many inspirations, and Jacqueline I. Stone on religion in Kyoto during the artist's time.

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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.