About the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

History and Building

In 1987, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery opened on the National Mall to become Smithsonian’s second museum of Asian art. The museum was built with funds provided by Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, who established the inaugural collection with a gift of one thousand objects. His renowned collection included incomparable examples of Chinese jades and bronzes, among other important works.

In addition to Dr. Sackler, the principal benefactor of the museum that bears his name, the governments of Japan and South Korea contributed to the construction of the building to promote their countries’ artistic and historical achievements. Architect Jean-Paul Carlhian designed the building (and the National Museum of African Art) on three underground levels, with a dramatic pavilion entryway through the Haupt Garden.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery can accommodate international loan exhibitions. See what’s on view.

Arthur M. Sackler

Dr. Arthur M. Sackler was a physician and medical publisher. Born and educated in New York, Dr. Sackler devoted his professional career to the advancement of medicine. His other passion was collecting exemplary objects from Asia, which evolved into the collection that forms the foundation of the museum’s holdings.

“One wonderful day in 1950 I came upon some Chinese ceramics and Ming furniture. My life has not been the same since.”

“Great art, great science, and the true humanities are great because they all ‘speak’ the truth,” Dr. Sackler once commented. “No great art, or science, no music or poetry or performance can achieve true greatness without integrity.”

In addition to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian, Dr. Sackler endowed galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Princeton University, as well as a museum at Harvard University. After his death, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology opened at Peking University in Beijing.

Read an acknowledgement from the museum (PDF)