Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art Announces “Freer’s Global Network: Artists, Collectors, and Dealers”

The National Museum of Asian Art presents Freer’s Global Network: Artists, Collectors, and Dealers, a groundbreaking exhibition that sheds new light on Freer Gallery of Art founder Charles Lang Freer. The exhibition opens on October 15 – just before the start of the museum’s centenary celebrations – and is still ongoing. An innovative digital feature makes the exhibition accessible to a global audience. As the National Museum of Asian Art charts its next 100 years, Freer’s Global Network offers an opportunity to reflect on the past.

Freer’s Global Network looks closely at the interconnected web of artists, dealers and collectors who helped shape the Freer Gallery of Art’s collection amid the changing political and economic environment of the early 20th century. The exhibition and its accompanying digital media are part of the museum’s work to uncover and amplify the many voices and perspectives that have shaped the museum.

The hybrid on-site and online exhibition sheds light on often-unseen elements of art history and museum practice, including provenance research documenting ownership of objects in the museum’s collection. The accompanying Digital StoryMap allows visitors to explore the stories of four individuals, Bunko Matsuki, Dikran Kelekian, Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Yamanaka Sadajirō, each of whom played an important role in shaping the collection Freer bequeathed to the nation.

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“The National Museum of Asian Art has been at the forefront of provenance research for many years,” said Chase F. Robinson, Dame Jillian Sackler, director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Asian Art in our second century, we are committed to presenting the history of our objects in innovative ways.”

The 22 objects on display in Freer’s Global Network, including American paintings and earthenware, Japanese pottery, ancient Chinese bronzes and Middle Eastern pottery, illustrate Freer’s network in operation. The exhibition is fully informed both through archival material and through ongoing research on Freer and his time.

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“It gives me great pleasure to place Freer in the larger context of his time and to highlight figures such as Agnes Meyer and Mary Chase Perry Stratton, women whose tastes and artistic talents shaped Freer’s collection in fundamental ways,” said Diana Greenwold, Lunder -Curator of American Art.

“As Freer’s Global Network celebrates the many personalities who have shaped the institution’s art collection, the exhibition itself was not conceived as a unique vision,” said Katherine Roeder, guest curator. “Rather, it was a collaborative project that brought together colleagues from different departments of the museum.”

About the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art is committed to preserving, exhibiting, researching, and interpreting art to deepen people’s collective understanding of Asia and the world. With more than 45,000 objects, the museum houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Asian art in North America with works from antiquity to the present day from China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Islamic world. Its rich holdings bring the art of Asia into direct dialogue with a major collection of 19th- and early 20th-century American works, and provide an essential platform for creative collaboration and cultural exchange between the United States, Asia, and the Middle East.

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Beginning with a 1906 gift that paved the way for the museum’s opening in 1923, the National Museum of Asian Art is a premier resource for visitors, students, and scholars in the United States and internationally. Located on the National Mall in Washington, DC, its galleries, laboratories, archives and libraries are part of the largest museum complex in the world, which typically sees more than 27 million visitors a year. Free and open to the public 364 days a year, the museum brings its exhibitions, programs, learning opportunities, and digital initiatives to a global audience.

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