1050 Independence Ave. SW
HOURS: Daily 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; closed Christmas Day
Technically two separate museums but lumped together because they share a similar focus—Asian art—and twin buildings surrounding a center court, the Freer and Sackler Galleries are true oases on the Mall, often overlooked spaces that hold an exquisite collection of Asian art and decorative artifacts, including centuries-old ceramics, jades, and bronzes, Japanese porcelains, Chinese scrolls, screens, and Islamic art and books.
The Freer Gallery, whose collection is largely derived from a gift by turn-of-the-20th-century industrialist Charles Lang Freer, also contains the world’s largest collection of works by James McNeill Whistler, Freer’s favorite artist.
Not to be missed is Whistler’s Peacock Room, designed for the home of British shipbuilder Frederick Leyland, a spectacularly embellished room the artist decorated without consulting the owner and then proceeded to hold parties in when Leyland wasn’t home. When the pair had a falling out over payment and the parties, Whistler reworked the room, painting it blue and adding a garish pair of gilt fighting peacocks.
Freer had the Peacock Room disassembled and rebuilt at his home in Detroit before it eventually ended up in this Washington gallery.