Freer Exhibits

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To accompany our lecture series Freer House has researched and put together several small scale exhibitions on a variety of topics related to Freer's life, his home, and the Merrill-Palmer School. Please click on the exhibit titles below to view or download a PDF version of the exhibit.

A House and Its History

This exhibit details the Freer House's vibrant and unique history as home to the donor of the first national art gallery, Charles Lang Freer and  details his life as a Detroit business man and art collector. It also explore the life of the house as home to  Merrill Palmer Institute, renowned for its work in child development beggining in the 1920s and it's the current roleas Wayne State's Merrill-Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development.


Freer and Swami Vivekananda: Detroit and India

Using images provided by the Freer Gallery of Art, a Smithsonian Institution, historic photographs from local archives, and primary research by local historians and international scholars, this is the first exhibit to tell the remarkable story of Charles Lang Freer's 1895 trip to India as well as the fascinating story of Swami Vivekananda's 1893 visit to Detroit, including his visit to the Freer House.

A Thousand Graces:
Freer's Pilgrimages to the Buddist Cave Temples at Longman and his Collection of Chinese Art

Created in conjunction with the Freer Gallery of Art archivist, David Hogge, this exhibit tells the story of Charles Lang Freer's trip to the Longmen Caves and interior China. A Thousand Graces includes some of the earliest known photographs of the region paired with Freer's musings and impressions of this memorable journey as recorded in his diaries and letters.


Freer, Detroit and Japan (English Edition)
Freer, Detroit and Japan (Japanese Edition)

Highlighting Freer's many points of contact with Japan, this exhibit tells the unique story of Freer's travels in Japan, the friendships he formed with Japanese collectors and dealers,  and the Japanese men and women he hosted at his home in Detroit.  Freer and Japan not only details Freer's interest in Japanese art but the unique relationship he fostered between Detroit and Japan.


An Art Collector's Garden

With historic newspaper articles and photographs, original plant lists, and letters from Freer's archives, this exhibit helps the viewer envision and understand the significance of Freer's original garden.  The involvement of American artists Thomas Dewing and wife Maria Oakey Dewing in planning Freer's garden are detailed, as well as the role Freer House architect Wilson Eyre, Jr., of Phildelphia and local landscape architect Eutrope Ferrand.  Also explored are contemporary plans to revitalize the garden so the community with a glimpse into the legacy of artistry that once defined this space.