Agency history, 1944-1991

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  • Atıl, Esin
  • Lowry, Glenn D
  • Ettinghausen, Richard
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Curatorial - Islamic Near Eastern Art
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Curatorial - Ancient Near Eastern Art
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Office of the Director
  • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)


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.
  • Smithsonian Annals, 1944-1998
  • Smithsonian Directory, 1999
  • Official curatorship of the Near Eastern art collection began in 1944. Prior to 1944, the curatorial staff of the Freer Gallery of Art was small and focused on East Asian art; curatorial areas and titles were less defined; and visiting curators were used to help maintain the collections. The curators reported directly to the Office of the Director at that time. Curatorial - Near Eastern Art dissolved after 1991 and branched into two new curatorships: Ancient Near Eastern Art, 1987- , and Islamic Near Eastern Art, 1992- .
  • Richard Ettinghausen was Associate, Near Eastern Art from 1944 to 1961, and Head Curator, Near Eastern Art from 1961 to February of 1967. Esin Atil was the next curator, assuming the roles of Assistant Curator, 1971-1973; Associate Curator, 1971-1983; and head of Islamic special programs and historian from then to her retirement in 1993. Glenn D. Lowry was the final Curator of Near Eastern Art, 1984-1991.
  • The incumbents of the curatorial area of Near Eastern art conducted research; published; lectured; studied and translated texts, seals, and artifacts; and provided expert opinions on provenance, age, and quality of artifacts in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery collection of Near Eastern art. They researched and gave lectures in these galleries and in other research sites both in this country and abroad.
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of " above.

Repository Loc.

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


  • 1944
  • 1944-1991


  • Art
  • Art museums
  • Art museum curators
  • Art, Islamic


Middle East


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00317

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