Agency history, 1906-

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  • Platt, Charles A (Charles Adams) 1861-1933
  • Whistler, James McNeill 1834-1903
  • Hassam, Childe 1859-1935
  • Homer, Winslow 1836-1910
  • Thayer, Abbott Handerson 1849-1921
  • Dewing, Thomas Wilmer 1851-1938
  • Tryon, Dwight William 1849-1925
  • Saint-Gaudens, Augustus 1848-1907
  • Freer, Charles Lang 1856-1919
  • Lodge, John Ellerton 1876-1942
  • Sackler, Arthur M
  • Beach, Milo Cleveland
  • Lawton, Thomas 1931-
  • Stern, Harold P
  • Raby, Julian
  • Dehejia, Vidya
  • Wenley, A. G (Archibald Gibson) 1898-1962
  • Robinson, Chase F
  • Pope, John Alexander 1906-1982
  • United States National Park Service
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Office of the Director
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • Quadrangle Building (Washington, D.C.)


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996
  • Minutes of the Board of Regents, September 20, 1982
  • Smithsonian Year, 1987
  • The Freer Gallery of Art was conceived by its founder, Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), as a museum and a research institution. A Detroit industrialist, Freer collected more than 9,420 art objects and manuscripts before his death, including one of the largest collections of works by James McNeill Whistler; works by contemporary American artists including Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Abbott Handerson Thayer, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Dwight William Tryon, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens; and major collections of Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian, Near Eastern, and Indian objects.
  • In 1904, Freer informally proposed to President Theodore Roosevelt that he give to the nation his art collection, funds to construct a building and for an endowment to provide for the study and acquisition of "very fine examples of oriental, Egyptian, and near eastern fine arts." The deed of gift was executed in 1906 after the Smithsonian Institution's Board of Regents accepted Freer's offer on behalf of the government. Construction on the building to house the collection began in 1916 and was completed in 1921. On May 9, 1923, the gallery was opened to the public. The gallery, designed by American architect and landscape planner Charles A. Platt, is an Italian Renaissance-style building of Massachusetts granite and Tennessee marble.
  • In 1920, John Ellerton Lodge, Curator of the Asiatic Department of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was appointed the Freer's first Director. Lodge was the personal choice of Freer and continued to maintain his staff position at the Museum of Fine Arts until 1931. Lodge was Director of the Freer Gallery of Art until 1942. Lodge was followed by Archibald Gibson Wenley, 1943-1962; John Alexander Pope, 1962-1971; Harold P. Stern, 1971-1977; Thomas Lawton, 1977-1987; Milo Cleveland Beach, 1987-2001; Vidya Dehejia (Acting Director), 2001-2002; Julian Raby, 2002-2018; and Chase F. Robinson, 2018- .
  • In 1982 Arthur M. Sackler gave the Smithsonian his collection of Chinese and Middle Eastern Art, valued at more than fifty million dollars, as well as a gift of four million dollars to help defray construction of a gallery in the Quadrangle Building on the Mall. This donation, known as the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, is administered jointly with the collections of the Freer Gallery of Art. While each gallery had its own sub-director for a time (these do not exist at the present), they have always shared a Director.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1906
  • 1906-


  • Art
  • Architecture
  • Art, American
  • Art museums
  • Architecture, Renaissance
  • Art, Asian


Middle East


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00011

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