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Guides to the Collections


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Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries

This guidebook serves as a curator-led experience through more than one hundred masterworks assembled in the collections of both museums: American, Ancient Near East, Chinese, Indian, Islamic World, Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian, including ceramics, biblical manuscripts, photography, and other works of art. 192 pp., © 2010

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Korean Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries

By Louise Allison Cort et al.

With more than 200 color and archival images, this guidebook presents the full scope of the museums’ Korean art collections. It first traces the formation of the Freer Gallery’s collection of 540 Korean objects, reversing the usual chronological order by following the collecting path of museum founder Charles Lang Freer. The book then describes how the Freer’s Korean collection has continued to grow, and presents the late twentieth-century Korean art that has been acquired by the Sackler Gallery since it opened in 1987. 216 pp., © 2012

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Also available, a free app (for iPad only): Charles Lang Freer: Collecting Korea 


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A Perfect Harmony: The American Collection in the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art

By Lee Glazer

American art occupied a key role in the collecting philosophy of Charles Lang Freer, the founder of one of the world’s foremost museums of Asian art. Indeed, it was an American, the expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler, who shaped Freer’s cross-cultural aesthetic philosophy. The two men met in 1890 and over the next thirteen years, Whistler helped Freer amass what the artist called “a fine collection of Whistlers!!—perhaps The collection.” Whistler also encouraged Freer to visit Asia and seek out “the story of the beautiful,” from which his own art was descended. Freer thus conceived of his museum as a monument to Whistler and the “points of contact” between East and West, ancient and modern, that he believed the artist’s work embodied. Freer’s relationships with Whistler and other American artists are the focus of A Perfect Harmony. 242 pp., © 2013

On sale in the museum shop: $18.00

Also available, a free app for iPad and iPhone: The Peacock Room Comes to America.