Scholarly programs, designed for experts, students, and enthusiasts, share groundbreaking research and provide a deeper look into Asian and American art and culture. Symposia are open to the public and available to watch online.

Symposia & Conferences | Webinars | Upcoming Programs | Past Events


Symposia & Conferences

Yamanaka & Co.: Early Pioneer of the Global Asian Art Trade
April 15, 2021
8:30 am–12 pm (Montreal/Washington, DC)
1:30 pm–5:00 pm (London)
2:30 pm–6:00 pm (Berlin)
9:30 pm–1:00 am (Osaka)
5:30 am–9:00 am (Seattle)
Register online

Yamanaka & Company was one of the most prolific art dealers selling Asian art to buyers in Europe and the United States in the late nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century. A family business that was initially based in Osaka, Japan, it became a shareholding corporation and a global leader in selling Asian art mainly to a Western clientele. In 1894, the first gallery outside of Japan opened in New York City, with more branches following in Boston, Chicago, London, and Beijing, among other locations. Art collecting giants including the Rockefellers, Ernest Fenollosa, Charles Lang Freer, and Osvald Sirén were some of Yamanaka’s clients. The broad variety of Asian objects from East Asia and South and Southeast Asia sold by Yamanaka are now in leading museums around the world, including the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Freer Gallery of Art.

Examining the history of Yamanaka & Company illustrates the complicated nature of the art market at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, implicating colonial entanglements, illicit translocation of objects from broader Asia to Europe and North America, and forced sales during WWII. This webinar will bring together members of the Yamanaka family, academics, and museum specialists who will discuss the impact of the Yamanaka trading activities on today’s museum collections.

This program is the second installment in the series Hidden Networks: Trade in Asian Art, which is co-organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art; Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.


PostponedSymposium: Japan in the Age of Modernization: The Art of Tomioka Tessai and Otagaki Rengetsu

This event has been postponed

This symposium gathers scholars from the United States, Japan, and Europe, who look beyond Japan’s Western industrialization to examine China’s role in forming the nation’s modern identity. It accompanies a major retrospective of the modern Japanese painter Tomioka Tessai (1836–1924) on view from March 28 to August 2, 2020, at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. A curator-led sneak preview of the exhibition concludes the symposium.


Upcoming Programs

Hidden Networks: The Trade of Asian Art

2020–2022

The histories of collecting and the art market are essential to advancing provenance research. Art dealers and collectors, both private and public, play an eminent role in cultivating new tastes, desires, and market trends. Provenance research, therefore, is more than an effort to document an object’s different owners; provenance research includes the work of uncovering the mechanisms behind translocations, understanding the transformation of material culture, and exploring the production of knowledge within different worlds and systems of meaning.

Hidden Networks: The Trade of Asian Art is a series of webinars that seeks to foreground this understanding of provenance and reveal the complex structure of the market for Asian art from the 19th to the 20th century. The series is co-organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M.  Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, and the Zentralarchiv and Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin—Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz).

Each webinar focuses on dealers and collectors of Asian art. Some webinars will be in-depth explorations of individual companies and dealers, while others will focus on the impact of groups of collectors and dealers.


Chinese Object Study Workshops
2015–2020

Sophisticated visual analysis is a hallmark of art history and depends on skills acquired through the direct study of objects. These skills must be taught and practiced. Yet as graduate art history curricula have expanded to include training in methodology, historiography, and theory, training in object study has all but disappeared. The problem is exacerbated for students of Chinese art history, whose graduate curricula must also include language courses and related subjects such as religion, literature, and history.

Chinese Object Study Workshops is a program that provides graduate students in Chinese art history an immersive experience in the study of objects. The week-long workshops will help students develop the skills necessary for working with objects, introduce them to conservation issues not readily encountered in typical graduate art history curricula, and familiarize them with important American museum collections.


Past Events

Honoring Esin Atıl
Saturday, February 20, 2021, 9 am–1 pm EST

C.T. Loo Revisited:
New Sources & Perspectives on the Market for Asian Art in the 20th Century
8:30 a.m. –12 p.m., Thursday, December 3, 2020

Symposium: AfricAsia: Overlooked Histories of Exchange
9–11 a.m., September 14–16, 2020

Goryeo Art and Culture Study Day
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Symposium: Korean Buddhist Images and Dedication Practice
Thursday, February 20–Friday, February 21, 2020

Goryeo Buddhist Painting: A Closer Look
Friday, March 10, 2017

The Word Illuminated: Form and Function of Qur’anic Manuscripts
December 1–3, 2016
Watch the symposium online

SĹŤtatsu’s Times: Perspectives on the Culture and Politics of Kyoto
December 5, 2015

SĹŤtatsu in Washington: Insights, Discoveries, and Reflections
October 24, 2015
Watch the symposium online

In the Dig House: Behind the Scenes in Archaeology
April 25, 2015
Watch the symposium online

Whistler and Kiyochika: Modernity, Melancholy, and the Nocturne
May 14, 2014

Whistler Object Study Workshop
June 9–12, 2014

Medical and Modern Yoga
January 11, 2014

Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium
November 21–23, 2013
Watch the symposium online

The Legacy of Cyrus the Great: Iran and Beyond
April 27, 2013
Watch the symposium online

Crossroads of Culture: The Archaeology of Saudi Arabia
November 17, 2012

The Art of Itō Jakuchū
March 30, 2012

Imperial Exposure: Early Photography and Royal Portraits across Asia
December 5–6, 2011

Palaces of Art: Whistler and the Art Worlds of Aestheticism
October 27–28, 2011
Watch the symposium online

Art and Material Culture of the Northern Qi Period
June 3–5, 2011

Piety, Poetry, and Politics: Sufi Muslims in South Asia
April 28–30, 2011

Historians Of Islamic Art Association (HIAA) Second Biennial Symposium: “Objects, Collections, And Cultures”
October 21–23, 2010

Forbes Symposium
October 28–29, 2010