Peacocks Find Home at Freer

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On May 1, 1923, the Freer Gallery of Art opened with a private viewing for President Warren G. Harding, Mrs. Florence Kling Harding, the Smithsonian Regents and various cabinet members. In addition to the art exhibits, the courtyard became home to three peacocks. The peacocks, donated by the National Zoological Park, resemble the decorative images in James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room. The peacocks moved back to the Zoo in the winter for safekeeping and returned to the Freer in the spring. The peacocks remained fixtures in the Freer courtyard in the 1920s.


  • Harding, Warren G (Warren Gamaliel) 1865-1923
  • Whistler, James McNeill 1834-1903
  • Harding, Florence Kling
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • Freer Gallery of Art Peacock Room
  • United States President (1921-1923 : Harding)
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 298, Box 1, "Local Notes," 11/22/1923, p. 2.
  • Annual Report for the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1923. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1925, p. 60.
  • Richardson Brigham, Gertrude, "Freer Collection Viewed In Private," Washington Post, 05/2/1923, p. 8.
  • "Sparrows Ruffle Dignity of Art Gallery Peacock," Washington Post, 08/22/1924, p. 3.
  • Merrill, Linda. The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1998) p. 352.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


May 1, 1923


  • Art
  • Animals
  • Openings
  • Art museums
  • Art, Oriental
  • Peafowl
  • New Museums
  • Birds
  • Exhibitions
  • Art, Asian


Washington (D.C.)

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