The Smithsonian has received a gift of $5 million from Dame Jillian Sackler, the New York-based philanthropist and widow of Arthur M. Sackler, for whom the Gallery is named. The gift will be used to establish an endowment to support the position of the director and programs at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art
, which together constitute the Smithsonian's museums of Asian art.
In recognition of Jillian Sackler's generosity, the museums' director position will be known as the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art.
"This remarkable gift will ensure that the Sackler and Freer Galleries will have the best possible leadership into the future," said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. "Nothing could be more important, and we are deeply grateful to Dame Jillian Sackler for her commitment and foresight, particularly coming on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery."
Jillian Sackler has been a generous supporter of the museums since the inception of the Sackler Gallery. She served on the Sackler's visiting committee in its early years, assisting with many projects. She is also honorary chair and chief benefactor of the Sackler's 25th Anniversary Gala to be held Nov. 29.
The 25th anniversary of the Sackler will be marked with special exhibitions throughout 2012, including installations by contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and Iraqi artist Jananne al-Ani; a show of jewel-like manuscript paintings, drawn in part from the Sackler's Indian and Persian collections; and a series of Japanese art exhibitions in honor of Washington's Cherry Blossom season. A highlight of the anniversary year is the Sackler's major fall exhibition, "Roads of Arabia," which will showcase recently discovered ancient artifacts from the Arabian Peninsula. Organized for a North American tour by the Sackler and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, the exhibition will premiere in the U.S. at the Sackler.
At its founding in 1987 the Sackler received a renowned collection of more than 1,000 pieces of Asian art from Dr. Sackler, including a collection of ancient Chinese jades and ancient Persian metalwork. Since that time, a series of strategic acquisitions have added to Dr. Sackler's original gift to create a world-renowned collection, now numbering more than 9,000 pieces. Highlights of the collection today include Persian and Mughal manuscript paintings, Japanese prints from the Edo and modern periods and a unique assemblage of Tibetan Buddhist sculptures and paintings.
The Sackler was conceived to present its own collection as well as contemporary art works and travelling exhibitions. Over the past 24 years, the Sackler has organized and presented a wide array of groundbreaking exhibitions reflecting the full spectrum of Asian art and culture.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, except 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 Sackler and Freer Galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other events, the public may visit asia.si.edu.