Smithsonian Digitizes & Lets You Download 40,000 Works of Asian and American Art

Without a doubt, Washington, DC is an amazing metropolis. It can easily satisfies the tastes for every visitor who wants to explore the capital. Of course, for history lovers is the must visit city in US. From The White House to The Washington Monument, and from The Lincoln Memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial or World War II Memorial, Washington offers countless moments of historical pride. In addition, DC doesn't lack of spirituality, natural history or technology. The Library of Congress, the Washington National Cathedral, the Natural History and Air and Space Museums prove that this city is a treasure of knowledge.

And of course, art lovers are also amazingly lucky as DC's true diamond is the art collections. Classical, Baroque, Renaissance, modern art collections are provided through the Smithsonian’s network of museums. From the East and West Wings of the National Gallery, to the Hirshhorn, with its wondrous sculpture garden, to the American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery, the choices are uncountable.

However, there is one collection that tends to get disregarded and it really shouldn't — the Freer and Sackler Galleries, which house the Smithsonian’s unique collection of Asian art, including the James McNeill Whistler-decorated Peacock Room. (His “Harmony in Blue and Gold” in the picture above.)

This re-creation of museum founder Charles Freer’s personal 19th century gallery—which he had relocated from London to his Detroit mansion in 1904— offers a breathtaking aesthetic experience that will be in your memory for a long time after your visit. In every case, should you have to hustle past the Freer and Sackler collections on your DC vacation, or should you be unable to visit the nation’s capital at all, you can still get a taste of the beautiful artworks this city offers.

Like many major museums all over the world—including the National Gallery, The British Library, and over 200 others—the Freer/Sackler has made its collection, all of it, available to view online and even download a part of it.

See delicate 16th century Iranian watercolors like “Woman with a spray of flowers” (top), powerful Edo period Japanese ink on paper drawings like “Thunder god” (above), and astonishingly intricate 15th century Tibetan designs like the “Four Mandala Vajravali Thangka” (below). And so, so much more.

As Freer/Sackler director Julian Raby describes the initiative, “We strive to promote the love and study of Asian art, and the best way we can do so is to free our unmatched resources for inspiration, appreciation, academic study, and artistic creation.” There are, writes the galleries’ website, Bento, “thousands of works now ready for you to download, modify, and share for noncommercial purposes.” Actually, more than 40,000.

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