Media only: Irene Nemitsas: 202.633.0521
Barbara Kram: 202.633.0520
Public only: 202.633.1000
The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will offer a variety of Japanese programs, exhibitions, tours, and performances in celebration of the 2004 Cherry Blossom Festival, and in honor of the 92nd anniversary of the original 3,000 cherry tree gift from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. and the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Amity between the U.S. and Japan.
For the third consecutive year, the Freer and Sackler Galleries are a partner with the Mayor’s office for the Cherry Blossom Festival Poster Contest. Public schools from across the District participate in this exciting program, with over 100 pieces of artwork submitted each year. The awards ceremony will take place on March 25 at the Freer Gallery of Art, where afterwards students will enjoy special tours of the galleries’ Japanese collection.
Daily tours will also be available to the public from March 29 through April 11 (excluding Wednesdays). Visitors can learn about Buddhist iconography in “The Religious Art of Japan,” admire large and lavish Japanese screens in the exhibit “Japanese Screens,” and study exquisite hanging scrolls in “Birds and Beasts in Japanese Art.” Tours generally last one hour and meet at the information desks.
The galleries’ Japanese exhibitions offer visitors the opportunity to explore Japanese culture and enhance their awareness and understanding of Asia. A special exhibition entitled, “Faith and Form: Selected Calligraphy and Painting from the Japanese Religious Traditions” will be on view from March 20 through July 18. Visitors can discover richly illuminated sutras texts, portraits of Zen masters, and mandala paintings and learn the intimate relationships between calligraphy, painting and faith transmission within the Japanese Buddhist tradition.
The galleries’ public programs also offer a variety of entertainment choices. On April 2, “Japanese Drums: Ryujin Daiko” showcases a traditional barrel drum ensemble from Shikoku Island. Also taking place are two Japanese film festivals. From March 5 through April 25, “Yasujiro Ozu: A Retrospective,” made possible by Shochiku Company, Ltd., Janus Films, the Japan Foundation, the Japan Information and Cultural Center and the generous support of the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., presents 14 films highlighting the work of one of Japan’s greatest directors, while the Second Annual Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon, being held on April 3, celebrates Japanese anime with a daylong festival of four films. For more information on public programs, visitors can go to asia.si.edu
Children visiting the galleries can learn how Japanese screens are created and make a miniature screen to take home in the ImaginAsia program “Japanese Screens.” At ImaginAsia, children explore an exhibition and create a related art project. Children ages six to 14 accompanied by an adult are welcome. Visitors may also wish to stop by the Freer and Sackler gift shops. The shops offer a variety of unique items celebrating the Cherry Blossom Festival, from a line of exquisite “blossom dishes” to festival t-shirts.
The Freer and Sackler galleries together form the national museum of Asian art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day. Admission is free. The galleries are located at Jefferson Drive and 12th Street S.W. (Freer) and 1050 Independence Avenue S.W. (Sackler) and are near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 357-1729, or visit the galleries’ Web site at asia.si.edu.