Discovering Babur's Gardens: The Elizabeth Moynihan Collection in the Freer|Sackler Archives

 Travel back to sixteenth-century Central Asia with architectural historian Elizabeth Moynihan. Follow in the footsteps of Babur, the first Mughal emperor, as he carves lush and fragrant gardens into the landscape of India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Learn more »

detail, Sharpur Plate

Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran

In celebration of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's twenty-fifth anniversary, the Freer and Sackler's extraordinary collection of luxury metalwork from ancient Iran goes on view in the walkway between the two museums.

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detail, Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room

Worlds Within Worlds

India's Mughal emperors, who reigned over a vast and wealthy empire that extended from Kabul over most of the South Asian subcontinent between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century, were passionate about lavish manuscripts and paintings. Between 1556 and 1650, the greatest Mughal patrons—the emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan—formed grand workshops that brought together and nurtured India's leading painters, calligraphers and illuminators.

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detail, Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room

Sweet Silent Thought

In Victorian England in the nineteenth century, life was separated into gendered spheres. The masculine realm was often characterized by outward-directed activities of physical exertion, industry, and business. Women, on the other hand, were identified with the private world of imagination and self-reflection, as seen in this selection of prints by American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler.

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detail, Shiva Nataraja

India: Shiva Nataraja (Lord of the Dance)

"Ta-dum, ta-dum, ta-dum..." beats the drum in Nataraja's hand, as he shakes it, giving rhythm to his dancing feet and sound to his image. Shiva, the auspicious one, is manifest here as the Lord of the Dance, a form he has taken not to entertain but perform cosmic work. Shiva Nataraja is crushing ignorance, presented by the sculptor as a demon under his feet who looks up benevolently at the god, even as his own ruin is in progress.

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detail from waves of matsushima screen

Waves at Matsushima

Since ancient times the Bay of Matsushima on the Pacific coast of Japan has been celebrated for its natural beauty. Located at the northern end of Miyagi Prefecture, the coastline curves eastward to form a sheltered bay dotted with more than 260 small picturesque islands covered with pine trees. Literally known as "pine islands," Matsushima is considered one of Japan's three most beautiful sites. For centuries poets and artists have journeyed to Matsushima, where they are inspired to interpret the breathtaking landscape in words and images.

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detail of princess from the land of Porcelain

A Journey to Xiangtangshan

Carved into the mountains of northern China, the Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtangshan ("Shahng-tahng-shahn") were the crowning cultural achievement of the Northern Qi ("Chee") dynasty (550-77). The name Xiangtangshan translates to "Mountain of Echoing Halls." It refers to two groups of caves: northern Xiangtangshan and southern Xiangtangshan, located about nine miles apart in Hebei province.

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detail of princess from the land of Porcelain

Art Project

Explore the Freer Gallery of Art and sixteen other renowned museums around the world with Art Project. In this virtual environment, Google technologies enable visitors to stroll the halls of Versailles, study objects in the Hermitage, or gaze at Van Gogh’s Starry Night and other masterpieces in stunning detail. To capture the Freer’s unique spirit, Google technicians employed gigapixel imaging to delve into the details of American artist James McNeill Whistler’s painting The Princess from the Land of Porcelain. One hundred high-resolution images of other works in the Freer collections are also on view in the Art Project.

Visit us at Art Project or learn more »

detail of a from Mountains and Rivers without End handscroll

Gary Snyder: Mountains and Rivers Without End

Listen to legendary poet Gary Snyder as he reads from Mountains and Rivers without End, his epic celebration of nature and humanity that encompasses Asian artistic traditions, Native American storytelling, and Zen Buddhist philosophy. Learn how Dr. Snyder wrote the narrative, and discover how landscape paintings from the Freer Gallery of Art inspired his work. View this feature »

detail of a cluster of bronze animal ewers

Ancient Chinese Jades and Bronzes

The Freer Gallery of Art possesses one of the most important collections of ancient Chinese bronzes and jades outside China. It includes bronze containers used in honoring ancestors at ritual banquets and exceptional jades largely created by the Liangzhu culture during Chinaís Neolithic period. Explore highlights from the collection and learn more about these objects in our Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades features »

detail from Sam returns with his Son Zal: a detail from the bird-like head of the simurgh

Shahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings

One thousand years ago, the Persian poet Firdawsi completed one of the greatest masterpieces of world literature: the Shahnama, or Book of Kings. Composed of some fifty thousand verses, the sweeping epic recounts the myths, legends, and "history" of Iran from the beginning of time to the Arab conquest in the seventh century.

Learn more about the stories of the Shahnama and explore the illustrations.

James McNeill Whistler

Charles Freer met Whistler in 1890 when, on his first trip to London, he paid a call at the artist's Chelsea studio and initiated a long and fruitful friendship. With Whistler's encouragement and cooperation, Freer built the most important collection of his works in the world, including the Peacock Room, which is now a part of the Freer Gallery of Art.

Learn more about Whistler, his work, and some of the highlights of the Freer's Whistler collection.

China's Calligraphic Arts

Six major scripts have evolved and been used over the course of more than three thousand years of writing in China. Each of these styles of writing—oracle bone, seal, clerical, cursive, running, and standard—has distinct differences in appearance.

Learn more about these types of script and about the tools used in calligraphy.


Whistler and Music: Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano

This piano performance explores the influence of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler on the music of French composer Claude Debussy, as well as their mutual connections to Japan.
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For Educators

Find information about workshops and other events for teachers, online guides, and more in our Resources for Educators.

For Families

Explore the Freer Gallery with our special family-friendly guide or make a mini-gallery and curate your very own exhibition! More »

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Chinese Art
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Southeast Asian Art
Art Across Asia


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