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Visiting the Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Discover the world of Asian art just steps from the National Mall.
Note:The Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery’s sister museum, is closed for renovation and reopening in Oct. 2017. The Sackler Gallery remains open with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around town.
The vibrant and colorful world of Asian art is all around at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located on the National Mall and part of the Smithsonian Institution Museums. The gallery is located at 1050 Independence Avenue SW, and its mission is to advance the study, exhibition and appreciation of Asian art in all of its forms.
The Sackler Gallery opened to the public in 1987, with Dr. Arthur M. Sackler as its primary donor. His immense collection of Asian art included famous Chinese jades and ancient bronzes, necessitating a new Smithsonian museum dedicated to works from Asian nations (the Freer Gallery opened in 1923).
The Sackler Gallery is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except on December 25. Admission is always free. In terms of transportation, on-street parking is very limited, so using Metrobus or Metrorail (or both) is the best option. Use the Smithsonian Metro station on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines. The 32, 34 or 36 Metrobus routes all serve the National Mall area. The DC Circulator’s National Mall route will also take you near the museum – making it easy to continue your exploration afterwards. The facility is handicap-accessible.
The Sackler Gallery displays a wide variety of Asian art from several regions and eras, including Islamic works, Chinese art, ancient Near Eastern art and pieces from South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. It all adds up to a comprehensive and historical look at some of the world’s most fascinating cultures.
The museum features a regular rotation of new exhibits, so be sure to check current exhibitions to see what’s on display during your visit. At the same time, the Sackler Gallery has an extensive lineup of ongoing exhibitions that are required viewing.
Upon entering the building, you will be greeted by the museum’s Perspectives series, which highlights the most acclaimed contemporary artists from Asia and the Asian diaspora. Featured artists exhibit for months at a time, and displays have featured large installations and site-specific projects.
Make your way to a variety of exhibitions spanning modern and ancient works. Get your smartphone ready for the Monkeys Grasp for the Moon sculpture by Xu Bing, suspended from the ceiling along the Gallery’s stairs down to its beautiful reflecting pool.
Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran displays luxury metalwork from ancient Iran, exploring the technical and artistic features of these incredible works. Sculpture of South Asia and the Himalayas features sculptures of deities and teachers from Hindu and Buddhist cultures from the 10th to 18th century. Vietnam’s Ceramics: Depth and Diversity consists of 23 works from numerous eras, highlighting the variety in form in vessels used for dining, storage, transport and ritual.
The Sackler Gallery also features a healthy lineup of events and film screenings, which are often held at other museums around town. Check the calendar to see if you can catch one during your DC visit.
A final insider tip: make sure to check out the beautiful Enid A. Haupt Garden, situated just outside of the building. The four-acre public garden boasts gorgeous fountains, brick paths for walking, a famous Parterre and beautiful scenery.
Interested in more Smithsonian museums? Read our guide to Smithsonian Museums to continue your exploration.