Agency history, 1920-

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  • Stern, Harold P
  • Lodge, John Ellerton 1876-1942
  • Wenley, A. G (Archibald Gibson) 1898-1962
  • Yonemura, Ann 1947-
  • Shimizu, Yoshiaki 1936-
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Chief Curator
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Curatorial - Ceramics
  • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Office of the Director


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.
  • Beyond the Legacy, pp. 55-59, 61-62
  • Smithsonian Annals, 1951-1998
  • Smithsonian Directory, 1999
  • Curatorship of the Japanese collection of art at the Freer Gallery began in 1920, when the first Director, John Ellerton Lodge was hired. He and his staff curated the Far Eastern art collections, as did the next director, Archibald Gibson Wenley. During this time, the curatorial staff of the Freer Gallery of Art was small, curatorial areas and titles were less defined, and visiting curators were used to help maintain the collections. A major turning point for the Japanese art collection came with the appointment of Harold P. Stern as assistant in research in 1951. Prior to Stern's employment with the Freer Gallery of Art relatively few additions of Japanese art were made to the collection. He spent much of his career at the gallery building up the Japanese art collection.
  • Lodge and his staff curated the Far Eastern art collections from 1920 to 1942 when he died. Wenley and his staff curated from 1943 to 1962. Stern joined the staff as assistant in research and served in this capacity from 1951 to 1958. He was then Associate Curator, 1958-1961, and Curator, Japanese Art, 1961-1962. Stern became Acting Assistant Director in 1962 and was Assistant Director from 1963 to 1971. He remained the Director of the Freer Gallery of Art from 1971 to his death in 1977. Stern continued to conduct the curatorial tasks of the Japanese art collection even into his tenure as Director of the Freer Gallery of Art. He completed Birds, beasts, blossoms, and bugs: the nature of Japan - a catalogue for the same-titled 1976 exhibition - while he was Director. There was a vacancy in the curatorship of Japanese art from 1977 to 1979. The next curator was Yoshiaki Shimizu, Associate Curator, 1979-1983, and Curator, 1983-1985. Ann Yonemura was Assistant Curator, 1979-1990, and Associate Curator, 1990- . Incumbents of Curatorial - Japanese Art report to the Chief Curator.
  • Curatorial - Japanese Art conducts research; publishes; lectures; studies and translates texts, seals, and artifacts; and provides expert opinions on provenance, age, quality, and other significance of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery artifacts of Japanese art. Research and lectures take place both in these galleries and in other research sites in this country and abroad. Some of the study of Japanese ceramics was done separately by Curatorial - Ceramics and its predecessors.
  • 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


  • 1920
  • 1920-


  • Art
  • Art museums
  • Art, Japanese
  • Art museum curators


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00326

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