The Group Travel Leader

Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art Reopens After Two-Year Renovation


The Group Travel Leader
Published January 01, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art reopened in October after being closed nearly two years for renovation. In addition to numerous physical improvements, curators also re-created ways the paintings are exhibited to better engage 21st-century audiences.

Among the physical renovations to the Smithsonian’s first art museum, opened in 1923, was the cleaning, repair and restoration of the granite exterior; removing interior carpeting and restoring the original terrazzo floors; upgrading the auditorium; improving wi-fi; and installing marble baseboards.

Each gallery now has a theme instead of being organized only by chronology or country of origin. Labels for the works have been rewritten to make them less technical, and key items are marked with red-edged labels.

The Freer and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which opened in 1987 and is connected to the Freer through underground galleries, have the nation’s major collection of Asian art with more than 40,000 objects dating back thousands of years.

Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer donated his collections of Asian art and early 20th century American art to the Smithsonian, and money for the building, with the stipulations that none of its holdings could be lent out and no borrowed objects brought in.