Tuesday, August 6, 2013

July 18, 2013, The Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery with the shutters open to natural light

After a delicious lunch with my friend, Veronika Jenke, at the Museum of the American Indian cafe, Mitsitam, the three of us walked down the Mall to the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery to see the famous Peacock Room.   

In 2012, the Freer Gallery began offering guests a chance to see the room, elaborately decorated by James McNeil Whistler in the 1870s, with the wooden shutters open. For preservation reasons, the museum can only allow this sun exposure once a month (on the third Thursdays). Also, a curator recently studied early images of the room and restored the pottery thought to have lived on these shelves a century ago. 

I find the experience so much more compelling with sunlight and the original pots than when I've seen the room with only the low light offered by the overhead bulbs and the more generic blue and white Chinese export pieces.  

CVV and I also enjoyed the Whistler paintings in the adjacent room, where it's easy to follow the development of his distinctive style.  

Peacock Room web site

The symbolic dueling peacocks. Note overhead light fixtures.

The painting that inspired the room's decorations

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