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Smithsonian Institution Names Julian Raby Director of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Julian Raby, distinguished member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford, England, has been named Director of the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Raby will begin work in mid-May.

Raby’s broad and varied background includes a career rich in the research, study and teaching of Asian art and culture. A well-known teacher and scholar of Islamic art, Raby has a wide range of scholarly interests, from Byzantium to China, Late Antiquity to the Renaissance.

“We’re delighted to welcome Julian Raby to the Smithsonian, particularly at this time of heightened interest in the art and culture of Asia,” said Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small. “His vast scholarly experience, combined with his strong interest in public outreach, will now allow us to more fully display the vast treasures of the Freer and Sackler for an even wider audience.”

“I am both honored and humbled by this opportunity to bring my lifetime passion for Asian art and culture to the role of director for the national museum of Asian art,” said Raby. “I am committed to enhancing the Freer and Sackler’s international reputation for important exhibitions and collections and increasing its ability to promote a greater understanding of the meanings and values embodied in the arts of Asia to wider audiences.”

Raby, 52, was born in London. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from Magdalen College at the University of Oxford in 1971 and his doctorate in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford in 1981. His affiliation with Oxford grew to include a prominent role as University Lecturer in Islamic Art and Architecture (1979 to present), Chairman of Curators of the Oriental Institute (1991–1993; 1995–2000), and Chairman of the Board of the Faculty of Oriental Studies (1993–1995). While Chairman of Curators, Raby was also closely involved in the creation of the Oxford University Teaching and Research Unit of Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

Raby also has extensive experience in the field of publishing, where he has distinguished himself in the area of Asian studies as author, editor and publisher. At Oxford, he was the Series Founder and Series Editor of Oxford Studies in Islamic Art. He also served as the Monographs Editor for the British Institute of Archaeology and History in Amman, Jordan (1991–1993). Raby is the founder and former co-owner of Azimuth Editions, a major publisher in the field of Asian studies.

In addition, Raby has served as curator, concept designer and consultant for numerous museum exhibitions in both the United States and abroad. Exhibitions include the landmark “Iznik, The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey,” Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul (1989); “Empire of the Sultans: Ottoman Art from the Khalili Collection” (1995); “Royal Persian Painting: The Qajar Epoch,” at the Brunei Gallery School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London (1999); and “Portraits of the Sultan: Picturing the House of Osman,” at the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul (2000).

He is also the author of numerous papers, articles and books in the field of Islamic art, including books on Venice, Dürer, and the Oriental Mode (1982); IZNIK. The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey (London 1989); Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, The Foundation of a Court Style(1993); and Qajar Portraits (London 1999).

An active participant in professional and educational associations, Raby has served as a member of the Council of the British Institute of Archaeology and History in Amman, Jordan, and is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He is a Socio Straniero of the Accademia Veneta, and a fellow of the Academia Europea.

The Freer Gallery of Art opened in 1923 as the first fine arts museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Founded by collector Charles Freer, its collection of Asian art is considered among the finest in the world. It also houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by American artist James McNeill Whistler. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, founded in 1987 with a collection of masterpieces of Asian art given by Arthur M. Sackler, explores Asia’s distinctive traditions with a varied program of exhibitions, public programs and performing arts. Together the two museums form the national museum of Asian art. The Freer and Sackler are in adjacent buildings, and are administered by a single staff.

Raby will be relocating to the Washington area with his wife, Lorna, an art book publisher and printer. He currently lives in London.

Note to Editors: Click here for high-resolution photo of Julian Raby.

The Freer Gallery of Art (12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W.) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (1050 Independence Ave. S.W.) together form the national museum of Asian art for the United States. The Freer also houses a major collection of late 19th and early 20th-century American art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and admission is free. Public tours are offered daily. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call 202.357.2700 or TTY 202.357.1729, or visit the galleries’ Web site at