The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will release their entire collections online Jan. 1, 2015, providing unprecedented access to one of the world’s most important holdings of Asian and American art. The free public resource—called “Open F|S”—will launch at open.asia.si.edu, allowing anyone to explore and create with the collections, from anywhere in the world. The vast majority of the 40,000 artworks have never before been seen by the public, and more than 90 percent of the images will be in high-resolution and without copyright restrictions for non-commercial use.
The Freer and Sackler galleries are the first Smithsonian and the only Asian art museums to digitize and release their entire collections, and in so doing, join just a handful of museums in the U.S. The public is encouraged to use the images for educational, scholarly, artistic and personal projects that will not be marketed, promoted or sold. Enthusiasts are encouraged to provide feedback for “Open F|S” by signing up to become a beta tester for the Freer|Sackler. Beta testers who sign up will receive exclusive hackathon invitations and closed test versions of future “Open F|S” iterations.
In the initial release, each work will be represented by one or more stunningly detailed images at the highest possible resolution, with complex items such as albums and manuscripts showing the most important pages. Future iterations of “Open F|S” will offer additional functionality such as sharing, curation and community-based research. The launch will be accompanied by an infographic visually representing the initiative and collection holdings, and some of the most popular images will be available for download as free mobile backgrounds, desktop wallpapers and social media headers.
Beginning on Jan. 2 with a post by Courtney O’Callaghan, chief digital officer at the Freer and Sackler galleries, museum insiders will share their rarely seen favorites culled from the digital collections in a new “Friday Fave” weekly series on Bento, the museum’s blog.
While “Open F|S” is the galleries’ largest digital initiative to date, it joins other recent projects designed to increase global accessibility. The Freer and Sackler galleries participated in the launch of both Google’s Art Project and the Google’s Cultural Institute’s online exhibition tool. Additionally, the galleries have converted almost 400 full-length performances at the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium by world-renowned musicians into digital format for streaming and download. The Freer|Sackler also boasts several 3D models on the Smithsonian X 3D website—including the “Cosmic Buddha”—and offers the public online exhibitions and free downloadable apps.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Ave. S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Ave. S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25), and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other public events, visit asia.si.edu or follow twitter.com/freersackler or facebook.com/freersackler. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.
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