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Focus on Japan through Film & Art

The following programs are proudly co-sponsored by The Freer House/WSU with the Detroit Institute of Arts' Friends of Asian Arts and Cultures and the Detroit Film Theatre.

Edo Avant Garde  Film at DFT, Thurs, Oct 19, 7pm

A special showing of the extraordinarily beautiful documentary, Edo Avant Garde, by filmmaker and screenwriter, Linda Hoaglund of New York, who will be present for the screening. The film highlights Japan's Edo period (1603-1868) art by masterful and inventive Japanese artists such as Sotatsu, Korin, and Okyo, acquired by Detroit's Charles Lang Freer and other collectors and museums in Japan and America, that were pre-cursors of 'modernism' and strongly influenced Western artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Stunningly filmed by Japanese cinematographer, Kasamatsu Horimichi, the film explores the delicate beauty and wide variety of folding screens and scroll paintings and sheds new light on the pioneering aesthetic achievements of Edo period Japanese art. Filmmaker Linda Hoaglund will be interviewed after the screening by DFT curator Elliot Wilhelm and Katherine Kasdorf, Associate Curator of the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World, DIA. Directed by Linda Hoaglund, 2019.

Tickets available at the door or in advance by clicking HERE

Edo Avant Garde  Educators' Workshop at DIA, Sat, Oct 21, 10am-4pm

Informed by a viewing of the film Edo Avant Garde, 10:30am -12noon, educators, artists, and art appreciators will become acquainted with lesson plans tied to themes in the film such as painting nature, birds and animals, spirituality, and various artistic techniques. Filmmaker, Linda Hoaglund, will discuss the documentary's premise of how Edo era Japanese artists set the stage for the later 'modern art' movement in the West. Participants will explore related educational resources and learn about Japanese art in the DIA's collection. Co-hosted by the Center for Teaching About Asia (NCTA). SCECHs are pending.

To register to view the film and attend the workshop, click HERE

To register to view the film only, click HERE

Seven Samurai  at DFT, Fri, Oct 20, 7pm

In 16th century Japan, a small village is regularly plundered by bandits until a band of unemployed samurai agree to take on the task of turning the defenseless farmers into an army. Kurosawa's masterpiece is one of the most influential battle epics ever filmed, and above all a great story - a timeless fable about bravery and character, told with electrifying grace. This special screening will be introduced by Linda Hoaglund, translator for the film's 2006 revised English subtitles. Japan/1954, directed by Akira Kurosawa. (207 min. with one intermission)

Tickets available at the door or online by clicking HERE

Freer House Garden Fund Grows on WSU Giving Day

Thank you, thank you, thank you! The Freer House tripled its goal for the Freer House Garden Fund during WSU Giving Day on April 13, 2023 and raised $6,150 from 49 donors! These funds will help cover the annual costs of maintaining the garden for 2023 and assure the garden's continued health and growth. Thank you to everyone who supports the garden, through a financial contribution, publicly expressed support, or by simply taking a few minutes to visit the garden and enjoy the surroundings.

Please click HERE to enjoy a brief time-lapse video of the Freer House gardens in all four seasons.

Wayne State University Honored Women's History Month at Freer House

On March 23, 2023, the Freer House co-hosted Women of Ferry Street: Then and Now with the Division of Government and Community Affairs at Wayne State University. This Women's History Month program, honored the lives and achievements of six contemporary women of Detroit, including Ann Nicholson, a long-standing Freer House supporter and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute board member. The event was co-sponsored by BasBlue, a new women's leadership and mentorship club on Ferry Street. 

The 75 invited guests were treated to a program that paid tribute to the remarkable honorees. It also highlighted the significant and diverse history of African American, Jewish, and Caucasian women who established civic, cultural and educational institutions over the course of 130 years on Ferry Street. Important women friends and colleagues of Charles Lang Freer, such as artist and founder of Pewabic Pottery, Mary Chase Perry Stratton, were recognized along with women who were key in the founding and development of the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. 

No other street in Detroit contains as many sites related to women's history as Ferry Street. We are proud to pay tribute to these women's lives and stories in our continued preservation and education efforts at the Freer House, and we're grateful to have been the location for this special event.

Click Here to read an article on this event from Today@Wayne

Charles Lang Freer, Chinese Art, and the Making of Global Detroit

On February 23, 2023, the Freer House and the Friends of Asian Arts & Cultures presented a fascinating lecture by Ian Shin, Assistant Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan. Dr. Shin discussed 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." 

Over 300 people from across the US and overseas registered for the program and Dr. Shin received an overwhelming response of praise. One viewer from Detroit, MI declared "I watch a lot of art presentations. This was one of the best." CLICK HERE to watch a recording of the program and learn how Freer, founder of the Freer Gallery of Art (National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian), connected Detroit with people, institutions, and artworks across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans---and how these cultural networks related to and amplified the rising political and economic power of the United States in the early 20th century.

The Peacock Room in Detroit, 1904 -1919

On December 8, 2022, Dr. Diana Greenwold, Lunder Curator of American Art, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, presented a riveting Freer House lecture on the Peacock Room's storied period in Detroit. We received a great response to the event, with around 150 viewers and a lively Q&A session, graciously assisted by guest host, Dr. Kenneth Myers, Curator of American Art, Detroit Institute of Arts. We would like to thank Dr. Greenwold, Dr. Myers, the DIA's Associates of the American Wing, and our generous sponsors, the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, Wayne State University, the Erb Family Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and The Peacock Room: Apparel, Accessories & Gifts for helping to share the legacy of Charles Lang Freer.
Access recording of December 8, 2022 here

Award-winning Photographer Returns to Freer House
Alex Vertikoff shooting the north-facing library bay window.
This May, Alex Vertikoff, master of architectural photography, returned to Freer House for a third time to capture our growing garden and details of the house not previously shot.  Alex created extraordinary images of the Freer House in 2013 and 2015 with his signature natural lighting approach, some of which can be seen here. Despite stormy weather two weekends ago, Alex continued to find the beauty in Freer House. We cannot wait to share some of his new work in the coming months!
"For over forty years Alexander Vertikoff's award winning images have been on hundreds of covers and articles in publications such as the The New York Times, and Architectural Digest. His photography has been on the cover of every issue of the legendary American Bungalow Magazine (96 and counting). He has been the principal architectural and promotional photographer for the J. Paul Getty Trust's Villa and Center, the Gamble House, Pebble Beach Resorts, the Driehaus Museum, and the Skirball Cultural Center. Vertikoff has over 15 books, and is the first foreign artist to have a traveling exhibit of his photographs in The People's Republic of China. He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from California Institute of the Arts." -
Mad About Painting: Hokusai and Freer  Free Online Lecture to be Held May 24, 2022 

If anyone in the United States and Europe can name just one Japanese artist, that name will surely be that of Katsushika Hokusai. Thanks to Charles Lang Freer's pioneering collecting and aesthetic sensibility, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art is home to the world's largest collection of Hokusai's paintings and drawings. In this talk, Frank Feltens, PhD, Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, explores the motivations that formed the backdrop of Freer's spectacular collection of Hokusai's works.

Japan Business Society of Detroit April 2022 Newsletter Highlights 1909 Japanese Businessmen Visiting Freer House

Read the english translation of the article HERE
The Japan Business Society of Detroit began its evolution in 1973 as an operating organization for supplementary lessons to enhance the education of Japanese children in the Greater Detroit area. The organization's scope has since expanded to contribute to the entire community by developing not only educational issues but also a wide range of activities.

The Late Dr. Brunk's Pewabic Pottery Chosen as a 2022 Michigan Notable Book!

The Michigan Notable Book award is bestowed by the Library of Michigan annually since 1991. Each year, the list features 20 books published during the previous year in any genre. The only criteria: Books that are chosen must be set in Michigan or by a Michigan author.

Tim Gleisner, head of collections at the Library of Michigan, says the selection committee about a dozen folks from the academic, publishing and library worlds pores over upward of 400 titles to figure out "the best of the best" books that honor the state. "We live and work in such a geographically diverse state, from Detroit to one of the last remaining wildernesses," he notes.

The above text was excerpted from a Detroit Free Press article from January 2, 2022.

Freer House scholar, author, and board member, the late Dr. Thomas W. Brunk, was also the noted authority on the history of Pewabic Pottery. Dr. Brunk authored a detailed book on the subject, including an entire chapter devoted to Freer's significant patronage of Pewabic and friendship with its founder Mary Chase Perry. Sadly, Dr. Brunk's untimely passing in 2018 took place before his completed manuscript could be published. Thanks to the efforts of Freer House board member, John Douglas Peters, and Project Editor, Amanda Frost, this extraordinary book was released by Michigan State Press and can be purchased at The Freer House is honored to have helped shepherd this project to assure that Dr. Brunk's exceptional scholarship and devotion to the history of Detroit's own Pewabic Pottery will be available for future generations.

  • Edo Avant Garde film viewing and live discussion
  • Hiroko Lancour's DIA artist demo
  • Thomas Brunk's book on Pewabic published
  • Spring welcomes visitors to FH Garden
  • Essential restoration undertaken at FH
  • Edo Avant Garde film viewing and live discussion
  • Freer Gallery of Art Centennial
  • New books highlight Freer and FH
  • Pewabic Pottery staff tour FH 
  • Bronze Chinese lamp reproduction underway
  • Edo Avant Garde film viewing and live discussion
  • Thomas Brunk's book on Pewabic published
  • In memory of Phebe Goldstein (1930-2020)
  • The Consul General of Japan honors FH / WSU 
  • Garden Revitalization Project extends around FH
  • Garden annual maintenance fund launched
  • Over 50 exterior windows and doors, trim repaired
  • West Meets East: Charles L. Freer, Trailblazing Asian Art Collector lecture
  • First Freer biography in over 25 years published 
  • Whistler painting reproduction installed 
  • Soccer Star gets his Kicks working at the Freer House 
  • In Memory of Thomas W. Brunk, Ph.D. (1949-2018)
  • Interior walls and 35 exterior windows and doors repaired
  • An Accidental Photographer in Korea: Portraits of a Lost Seoul at the Charles Lang Freer House lecture
  • Charles Lang Freer and his Adventures in Chinese Art Collecting lecture
  • Three Whistler painting reproductions installed 
  • FH doorbell reproduction installed 
  • Original "Flapjacks" painting returns to FH 
  • FH welcomes Her Imperial Highness Princess Akiko of Mikasa
  • FH featured in American Bungalow Magazine

Freer House Garden Revitalization Project video, summer 2018

  • Freer House courtyard garden has been completed
  • Japanese garden lantern replica installation
  • Freer House garden dedication party
  • MHPN awards Dr. Thomas Brunk and John Douglas Peters for their achievements in preservation 
  • Artist in Resonance: Hiroko Lancour at the Charles Lang Freer House exhibition 
  • New book on Charles L. Freer published 
  • From Traveler to Aesthete: Charles Lang Freer and Indian Art lecture
  • A Museum Rises: How Charles Lang Freer's Collection of American and Asian Art Landed on America's Mall lecture
  • Garden Revitalization Project nears completion
  • Sharing our Home: Art Students Discover History in their own Backyard
  • FH Director William Colburn receives MHPN Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Garden Revitalization Project Phase I begins 
  • HVAC Project begins 
  • FH featured in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine
  • FH interior finishes analysis in fourth year 

Imprints - MPSI newsletter, spring 2016

  • Freer's "Points of Contact" with Korea lecture
  • Freer and Sackler Gallery makes first group visit to Detroit

The Freer House Garden Project brochure, winter 2016

Imprints - MPSI newsletter, fall 2015

  • Thomas W. Brunk's Freer collection documented 

Imprints - MPSI newsletter, spring 2015

  • Hecker Mansion joins FH as WSU treasure
  • Hecker Mansion restoration
  • Visitors connect with FH past, present and future

Freer House report: summer 2014

  • Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson visits FH
  • New Tryon reproduction painting installed
  • Alex Vertikoff photographs FH
  • Freer and Japan lecture draws a large crowd
  • Author of a new biography on Whistler visits FH
  • In Attendance to the Realm: the Kano School of Painters in 17th Century Japan lecture 
  • DIA Samurai: Beyond the Sword exhibition 
  • WSU President M. Roy Wilson, Consul General of Japan, DIA Director Graham Beal, and former Mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer attend reception 
  • "Early Spring: New England" painting reproduction dedicated
  • Wayne State grad students research construction of FH 
  • The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920 lecture
  • PBS Whistler documentary preview
  • NHK film FH for documentary
  • Alex Vertikoff photographs FH  
  • Rose Foster named WSU's Building Coordinator of the Year 

Imprints - MPSI newsletter, Dec 2013

  • A Thousand Graces: Freer's Pilgrimage to the Buddhist Cave Temples at Longmen and his Collection of Chinese Art lecture
  • FH welcomes the Consul General of Japan

Imprints - MPSI newsletter, Spring 2013

  • Fundraising for Garden Revitalization Plan 

Freer House annual report: September 2012 - August 2013

  • Freer Symposium
  • Whistler Gallery Restoration Plan
  • Garden Revitalization Plan
  • Harmony in Design: Freer and Wilson Eyre, Jr. lecture
  • Heels Over Head: Freer and Indian Art Lecture
  • NHK visit to Freer House
  • A House and its History exhibit installed

Imprints - MPSI Newsletter, Spring 2012

  • Painting with Pottery in the Peacock Room lecture

Imprints - MPSI Newsletter, Fall 2011

  • Fundraising for restoration of the Whistler Gallery 
  • Americana Foundation helps fund interpretive plan
  • Freer furniture inventory

Imprints - MPSI Newsletter, Spring 2011

  • Whistler and Freer through Art, Music, and Letters multi-media event

Freer House Annual Report: October 2010 - September 2011

  • Dedication of historically appropriate cedar shake roof
  • Initiation of Interpretation Plan
  • Freer and the Art of Japan lecture
  • Freer furniture documentation project

Imprints - MPSI Newsletter, Fall 2010

  • Roof maintenance project completed
  • FH receives National Register of Historic Places designation
  • A Discerning Taste for Japanese Art: The Formation of Charles L. Freer's Collection lecture

Imprints - MPSI Newsletter, Spring 2010

  • Scarab Club Spring Quartet concert
  • Charles Lang Freer and Detroit's Pewabic Pottery lecture
  • Midwest Regional Conservation Guild visits FH 
  • Roof maintenance project announced
  • Eleven reproductions of Freer's paintings unveiled 
  • First meeting held of the Friends of Freer House
  • The Blue Room: Whistler's Peacock Room in Detroit lecture


"An American Collector in Egypt." Saenger, Peter. The Wall Street Journal, 23 Dec. 2022,

"Why the U.S. Rejected Then Embraced a Detroit Industrialist's Rare Collection of Asian Art." Baskind, Samantha. Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Dec. 2022,

"Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art Ready to Turn Page to its 2nd Century." Han-sol, Park. The Korea Times, 16 Nov. 2022,

"Freer Gallery Gets an Early Start on Celebrating its 2023 Centennial." Jenkins, Mary. The Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2022,

"Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art Announces Centennial Celebrations." Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, 6 Oct. 2022, Press Release.

"The Way It Was -- May Day, 1930." Bulanda, George. Hour Detroit Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022,

"One More Thing: Behold, the Glory of Detroit's Gilded Age Mansions." Abbey-Lambertz, Kate. Detour Detroit, March, 24, 2022.

"Charles Lang Freer and Japanese Ceramics." Cort, Louise Allison. Impressions: The Journal of the Japanese Art Society of America, vol. 39, Part One of Double Issue, 2018, pp. 131-163.

"Charles Lang Freer: An American Success Story." Forsyth, Douglas J. American Bungalow Magazine, no. 96, Summer 2018, pp. 68-79.

Creating a Harmonious Environment: An Art Collector's Garden. Michener, Dr. David C. (2018). University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum.

"Art Connection: Detroit and Freer." Kuchiki, Yuriko. The Japan Business Society of Detroit Monthly Magazine Views, no. 278, May 2017.

"Charles Lang Freer and the Collecting of Chinese Buddhist Art in Early-Twentieth-Century America." Wang, Daisy Yiyou. Journal of the History of Collections, vol. 28, no. 3, 2016, pp. 401-416.

"Full Circle: Biography of James McNeill Whistler Connects the Dots Between the Artist, Detroit." McFarlin, Jim. Wayne State Magazine, Winter 2015, pp. 50-55.

"Restoration of Historic Freer House Garden at Wayne State Begins." Pinho, Kirk. Crain's Detroit Business, 14 Sept. 2015,

"Whistler, Freer, and Their Living Legacy." Trippi, Peter. Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, vol. 12, no. 1, Jan/Feb 2015, pp. 48-53. 

"The Legacy of Charles L. Freer." Bulanda, George. Hour Detroit Magazine, 7 Feb. 2008,


FH recommends starting with:

West Meets East: Charles L. Freer, Trailblazing Asian Art Collector. Tomlinson, Helen Nebeker. Mascot Books, 2019.

Charles Lang Freer: A Cosmopolitan Life. Glazer, Lee, and Amelia Meyer. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2017.

"The Charles L. Freer Residence: The Original Freer Gallery of Art." Brunk, Thomas W. Dichotomy Student Journal, vol. 12, University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture, Fall 1999.

Freer: A Legacy of Art. Lawton, Thomas, and Linda Merrill. Smithsonian Institution, 1993.

FH recommends continuing with:

Korean Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. The Smithsonian Institution Freer and Sackler Galleries. Smithsonian Institution/Freer Gallery of Art, 2013.

A Perfect Harmony: The American Collection in the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art. Glazer, Lee. Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 2013.

The Peacock Room Comes to America. Glazer, Lee. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2012.

A Collector's Journey. Gunter, Ann Clyburn, et al. Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 2002.

The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography. Merrill, Linda. Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art, 1998.

With Kindest Regards: The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler, 1890-1903, edited by Merrill, Linda. Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995.

The Princess and the Peacocks Or, the Story of the Room. Merrill, Linda, and Sarah Ridley. Hyperion Books, 1993.

Leonard B. Willeke, Excellence in Architecture and Design. Brunk, Thomas W., Leonard Bernard Willeke, and University of Detroit. School of Architecture. Detroit, Mich.: U of Detroit, 1986.

The House That Freer Built. Brunk, Thomas W. Dichotomy Student Journal, vol. 3, no. 4, University of Detroit School of Architecture, 1981.

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