What do you think of when you hear the word “Buddhism”? Meditation or a smiling man with a round belly might spring to mind—but Buddhism involves much more than that. In fact, that “Laughing Buddha” is not traditionally understood to depict the Buddha at all.
Buddhism is a complex religion that has been around for twenty-five hundred years. Encountering the Buddha, an exhibition at the Freer and Sackler, explores Asia’s rich Buddhist heritage through more than two hundred artworks. It also shows how different schools based on the Buddha’s teachings developed over time.
In this web feature, you will find a selection of our Buddhist objects. Learn more about them through interesting facts, discussion questions, and art-making activities. Experiment with creating a gilded object, a guardian figure, and your own storyboard inspired by the Buddha’s life events, among other fun projects.
Send in a picture of your creation to the museums, and we will send back a button inspired by artworks in the exhibition.