Freer Gallery’s Final Weekend Open Before Renovation Marked by Special Event Jan. 2–3, 2016
The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art, one of the two national museums of Asian art, will present a variety of special public programs and connective exhibitions with the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery before it closes to the public Jan. 4, 2016, for major renovations. The Freer is scheduled to reopen in spring 2017 with modernized technology and infrastructure, refreshed gallery spaces and an enhanced Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Auditorium.
To celebrate the Freer’s final weekend before its hiatus, the museum will host a special event “Say Goodbye to the Freer!” Jan. 2–3, 2016, during regular museum hours, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Visitors can create their own “mini galleries” with a shoe box and cutouts of Freer masterpieces during a family-friendly open studio in the Freer galleries, demonstrating one possible application of Open F|S, the entirely digitized collection of the Freer and Sackler galleries, which will remain accessible online throughout the closure. Visitors can explore the Open F|S resource during the event with museum-provided iPads.
Visitors can also don a mask and a Peacock Room temporary tattoo while they take a special tour of staff favorite objects in the Freer, pose for pictures with life-sized cutouts of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler and relive the evolution of the Smithsonian’s first art museum with a video timeline of the Freer’s history. Visitors are encouraged to share their pictures with the hashtag #freersackler.
The Freer Gallery will also feature three closing exhibitions with illuminating artistic connections to temporary shows in the Sackler Gallery, which will remain open during the renovation.
“Bold and Beautiful: Rinpa in Japanese Art” explores 37 masterworks by Japanese artists who created striking images for paintings, ceramics, textiles and lacquerware, and are rooted in the work of the 17th-century Kyoto painter Tawaraya Sōtatsu, whose work and legacy as father of Rinpa are currently featured in the Sackler’s groundbreaking exhibition “Sōtatsu: Making Waves,” on view through Jan. 31, 2016.
As one of the great treasures of the Freer Gallery, and an icon of American art, the Peacock Room continues to inspire conversation with its complicated story of art, money and animosity. “Peacock Room REMIX” at the Sackler Gallery, on view until Jan. 2, 2017, centers on “Filthy Lucre,” an immersive interior by painter Darren Waterston. He reinterprets Whistler’s famed Peacock Room as a resplendent ruin that is literally overburdened by its own excesses of materials, history and creativity.
“The Nile and Ancient Egypt” presents exceptional ancient Egyptian artifacts in the collection of the Freer Gallery. Made of glass, wood and stone, these objects illuminate the important role water animals played in ancient Egyptian religion and concepts of the afterlife. At the Sackler, visitors can see contemporary art from Egypt with “Perspectives: Lara Baladi,” featuring a large-scale tapestry that reflects the Egyptian-Lebanese artist’s interest in the proliferation of images of Egypt, on view until June 5, 2016.
The renovation of the 180,330-square-foot building will accomplish several major goals: upgrade the building’s aging infrastructure, enhance gallery spaces, incorporate new technology and improve the visitor experience. The overhaul of crucial climate-control systems and replacement of outdated infrastructure with more energy-efficient systems are proceeding on schedule and are now approximately 40 percent complete. Other projects in design include:
- Refreshing gallery spaces to evoke Freer and Platt’s aesthetic vision, removing carpeting and restoring original terrazzo floors, installing marble baseboards, refinishing architectural details and preserving the use of natural light while incorporating state-of-the-art standards for the display and preservation of the collection.
- Enhancing the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Auditorium for a new season of performances, films and lectures with upgraded lighting, audio and video systems and a refurbished interior.
- Upgrading space use in storage and conservation areas to improve the preservation and scientific study of rare art and artifacts.
- Cleaning, repair and restoration of the pink granite building exterior and other exterior architectural elements.
- Installing building-wide Wi-Fi for improved digital access.
Concerts, films and other public programs normally held at the Freer will be hosted at the Sackler and at sites around the Smithsonian and the Washington, D.C., area, including the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, AFI Silver Theater, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Warner Brothers Theater at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. For a full listing of events and locations, visit asia.si.edu/events.
Details related to the renovation will continue to be announced at asia.si.edu/future.
The Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 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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