Join us February 23, 2022 6:00 PM (EST)
Charles Lang Freer, Chinese Art, and the Making of Global Detroit
Ian Shin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Departments of History and American Culture University of Michigan
Co-sponsored by Friends of Asian Arts & Cultures, Detroit Institute of Arts
In the first decades of the 20th century, art collector and philanthropist Charles Lang Freer helped make Michigan–especially Detroit and Ann Arbor–into a global hub for the collecting and study of Chinese art. How did Freer, founder of the Freer Gallery of Art (National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian), connect Detroit with people, institutions, and artworks across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans? And how did these cultural networks relate to and amplify the rising political and economic power of the United States in the early 20th century?
Ian Shin, Assistant Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan, will discuss how Freer's genuine desire to learn about and care for Chinese art and antiquities positioned Michigan in the vanguard of what foreign policymakers today call "America's Pacific Century." There will be a Q&A with Dr. Shin after his lecture.
The Peacock Room in Detroit 1904-1919
Online Lecture Held December 8, 2020
Thank you so much for joining us for Dr. Diana Greenwold's excellent lecture, The Peacock Room in Detroit, 1904-1919. We received a great response to the event and hope you will enjoy the recording of last evening's program here.
We also hope you will enjoy this brief and beautifully produced BONUS VIDEO from the Smithsonian about how the Freer Gallery of Art has reinterpreted the Peacock Room to look as it did in Freer's home in Detroit, circa 1906-1919.
For more information on the Peacock Room, please see our handy LECTURE REFERENCE GUIDE.
Built by industrialist and art collector, Charles Lang Freer, in 1892; the Freer House is a masterpiece of American shingle-style architecture and the birthplace of the Freer Gallery of Art (NMAA, Smithsonian) in Washington D.C. As an early champion of American, Asian, and Middle Eastern art, Freer's legacy of multi-culturalism is celebrated in the house's mission and programming today. These bonds to our nation's capital and much of the world make the Freer House an ambassador of Detroit's unique cultural heritage.
The Freer House is also recognized for its role in child and family development. In 1920, the Freer House became the home of the Merrill-Palmer Institute, which evolved into the renowned Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute (MPSI). Today, the Freer House is the location for MPSI's faculty offices and meeting room facilities.
Although the Freer House's structure and finishes have evolved to suit institutional needs, much of its original grandeur and architectural character remain. The Freer House is open periodically to the public for lectures, receptions, exhibits, and guided tours. Please visit our Events page for more information on how to plan your visit.
Click HERE to take a virtual tour of the Main Hall of the Freer House! Our sincere thanks to John Boros and Flythroo for producing this 3D tour!
The Freer House Garden Revitalization project was a 6 year endeavor with the goal of creating a garden that revitalizes the garden that Freer once had. Over the course of these 6 years and with the support of our many generous donors, we were successfully able to complete the garden in the summer of 2018. The garden has been dedicated in honor of Phebe Goldstein and in memory of Denise Little. Located on the west side of the house, the courtyard garden is open daily to the public.
Click HERE to view a short video documenting the garden transformation process created by Freer House volunteer, Natalie Miller.
During Freer's life, he and his guests could wander from the Main Hall and be transported into the exotic Peacock Room. The Peacock Room was originally decorated by James McNeill Whistler in England. Freer purchased the room and had it installed in his former Carriage House. Upon Freer's death, the Peacock Room was once again dismantled and reinstalled at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., where it is on permanent display. Please visit our History page for more information and resources on this artistic treasure.
Co-founder of the Friends of the Freer House and longtime Board of Visitors member of MPSI, Phebe Goldstein, sadly passed away in January 2020. Click HERE to read more about this extraordinary friend and supporter of the Freer House.
Freer scholar, Freer House Board Member, and longtime friend to the Freer House, Dr. Thomas W. Brunk, sadly passed away in late 2018. Click HERE to read more about this esteemed scholar and the vital role he played in both documenting and helping to preserve the historic Freer House.
The Freer House membership organization works to preserve the Freer House through public events, tours, and fundraising for restoration. Please visit our Membership page to begin a rewarding role in historic preservation today!