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Freer Study Collection

Housed in the Freer Gallery of Art, the Freer Study Collection consists of objects that are kept in the study rooms and are used for laboratory analysis, technical studies, and comparative materials by visiting scholars, students, and Freer and Sackler staff. The Study Collection was established in 1923 to receive a group of objects purchased by archaeologist Carl Whiting Bishop while he was on an expedition in China. It has since grown to include fragments of ancient Chinese ceremonial bronzes and Japanese woodblock prints.

In addition, the Study Collection has acquired mostly sherds of pottery and porcelain from known find-sites and kiln sites, including:

  • Hundreds of sherds from kiln sites in Thailand
  • Sherds of Vietnamese ceramics collected in Indonesia and Cambodia
  • Chinese porcelain sherds from known find-sites around the Indian Ocean, from Indonesia to the coast of Africa
  • A comprehensive collection of sherds from Japanese kiln sites
  • Sherds collected at the site of Fostat, in old Cairo

Study Collection objects are not be exhibited in the Freer Gallery, but they may be displayed in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and lent to other institutions for study or exhibition.

Freer Gallery Closure

From January 2015 through 2016, the collections storage areas of the Freer Gallery of Art will be unavailable for research or visits due to the replacement of the building’s heating, humidification, and ventilation systems. Throughout 2016 the Freer’s galleries and Meyer Auditorium will be closed to visitors. Concerts, films, and other public programs will be held at sites around the Smithsonian.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Library, and Archives will remain open during this period.

Contact with inquiries

Collections access: duleyel@si.edu

Public programs: publicaffairsasia@si.edu

Scholarly research: micklewrightn@si.edu

Media inquiries: pressasia@si.edu


Bowl from study collection FSC-P-4869

Access to the Collections

Objects housed in the storage areas of the Freer and Sackler Galleries are available to the public for serious study during normal working hours by appointment. More information »

Freer Gallery Closure

Please note: The collections storage areas of the Freer Gallery of Art will be closed in 2015 and 2016. The museum itself will be closed to the public in 2016. Learn more.

More on the Study Collection

Ceramic sherds from Southeast Asia—The Freer Gallery Study Collection and its donors by David P. Rehfuss