Art Installation Freer Sackler Gallery Lobby Sculpture

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Yoga is a global phenomenon practiced by millions of people seeking spiritual insight and better health. Few, however, are aware of yoga’s dynamic history. Opening this fall at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is Yoga: The Art of Transformation, the world’s first exhibition of yogic art. Temple sculptures, devotional icons, vibrant manuscripts, and court paintings created in India over 2,000 years—as well as early modern photographs, books, and films—reveal yoga’s mysteries and illuminate its profound meanings.

The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other public events, including other special programs to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sackler Gallery in 2012, visitwww.asia.si.edu. The Freer Gallery of Art will reopen on July 16. Free, timed entry passes will be made available soon. Please check back for updates in the coming weeks. Sackler Gallery will remain temporarily closed until November for exhibition.

The exhibition borrows from twenty-five museums and private collections in India, Europe, and the United States. Highlights include an installation that reunites for the first time three monumental stone yogini goddesses from a tenth-century Chola temple; ten folios from the first illustrated compilation of asanas (yogic postures), made for a Mughal emperor in 1602, which have never before been exhibited together; and Thomas Edison’s Hindoo Fakir (1906), the first movie ever produced about India.

Through masterpieces of Indian sculpture and painting, Yoga: The Art of Transformationexplores yoga’s rich diversity and historical transformations, including its philosophies, transformational goals, and importance within multiple religions. The exhibition also examines the varied roles that yogis and yoginis played in society, from sages to spies.

The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art: the Freer Gallery of Art which opened to the public in 1923, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which welcomed its first visitors in 1987. Both are physically connected by an underground passageway, and ideologically linked through the study, exhibition, and sheer love of Asian art. In addition, the Freer Gallery contains an important collection of 19th century American art punctuated by James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room, perhaps one of the earliest (and certainly one of the most controversial) art installations on record.

Each building has its own aesthetic: the Freer is designed in a classical style whose architectural nexus is a courtyard that used to house live peacocks in the museum's early days. It was Charles Lang Freer's goal to facilitate the appreciation of world cultures through art, a noble undertaking as important today as it was more than a century ago, when he first willed his artwork and archives to the nation.

The Sackler takes you on an underground journey, and is home to Dr. Arthur Sackler's incomparable collection of art including some of the most important ancient Chinese jades and bronzes in the world. In addition, the Sackler Gallery contains works that have been acquired in the last twenty years and also features the Perspectives series of contemporary art that greets and often surprises visitors when they first enter the gallery.

When you visit the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, online or in person, you can move through cultures and time periods to create a unique, tailored experience. In addition to the exhibitions on display the galleries feature innovative programming for visitors of all ages, such as lectures, concerts, films, and podcasts that enhance and extend the visit. If you’re onsite, you can even go wireless in the Haupt Garden (check out Asia on Google Earth while you’re at it) right outside our door: try something new, and when you’re done, come inside and take a fresh look at something old.


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