Celebrate Asia in America! at the Freer and Sackler Galleries for Inauguration 2009

January 14, 2009
News Release
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The Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries will be offering a variety of programs for visitors titled Celebrate Asia in America! as part of the 2009 Inauguration Week celebration, “Renewing America’s Promise.” The Freer Gallery will have several art displays exploring the Freer’s connection with American art. Both galleries will also offer a series of performances, storytelling and artist workshops that celebrate Asian and Asian American traditions. Activities will be held from Sunday, Jan. 18, through Tuesday, Jan. 20.

For Inaugural Week only, an autographed letter from Theodore Roosevelt inviting Charles Lang Freer to visit him at the White House, and Gari Melchers’ full-length portrait of Roosevelt (1908) will be on display in the Freer Gallery. On Sunday, Jan. 18, and Tuesday, Jan. 20, the galleries will offer performance tours of the Peacock Room, the Freer Gallery’s crown jewel, named an “icon of American Art” by the National Endowment for Humanities. Jonathan Watkins, performer and leader of the tours, “Leyland’s Butler: The Story of the Peacock Room,” will share with visitors the intriguing  story of the Peacock Room’s rich history. Another tour highlighting the  American collection, “Gift to the Nation: American Art and  Charles Lang Freer’s Aesthetic Vision,” will explore the key elements of Freer’s life and how they shaped his aesthetic vision for the Freer Gallery. Led by art historian Josephine Rodgers, this series of tours will be offered Sunday, Jan. 18, and Monday, Jan. 19. 

Beyond the American collection, the galleries will offer a variety of exciting performances, storytelling and ImaginAsia family programs each day. Highlights of the week include a dance performance by the Shizumi and Kodomo Dance Troupe, Sunday, Jan. 18. Performing artist, Shizumi Manale distills Japanese dance, music and literature into her performances to inspire audiences to connect with other cultures and contribute to the understanding between East and West. The troupe, founded by Shizumi, includes dancers between the ages of 4 and 17, many of whom have performed for the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Kennedy Center.

Monday, Jan. 19, and Tuesday, Jan. 20, the galleries will offer the Asian music workshop, “Join the Band!” The entire family can learn how to play Asian drums, gongs and cymbals to create their own inaugural parade in the Sackler Gallery. Monday afternoon activities will conclude with the soothing and invigorating sounds of Indian bamboo flutes in the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium. Performers include John Wubbenhorst, flute virtuoso and student of the great Hariprasad Chaurasia, and his accompanist on tabla Samarat Kakkeris. Kakkeris, a child prodigee, has performed with such kathak dance gurus as Gopal Rao and Raghav Bhatt. 

Discover the many programs that Celebrate Asia in America! will be presenting to visitors during Inauguration Week 2009.

Visit www.asia.si.edu/events/RenewingAmericasPromise for more detailed information on locations, time and descriptions of the week’s events. The above programs are generously supported by the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009.

The Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or visit the Web site: www.asia.si.edu.

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Solo Medios 

Amanda Williams

(202) 633-0271