COURTESY ARTHUR M. SACKLER GALLERY “Boats Grappling Upstream” shows rural Chinese culture during the Qing dynasty.
COURTESY ARTHUR M. SACKLER GALLERY
“Boats Grappling Upstream” shows rural Chinese culture during the Qing dynasty.

Where: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Dec. 5 to May 29
Info: asia.si.edu/travelerseye
Price: Free

Currently on display at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, “The Traveler’s Eye: Scenes of Asia” offers a vibrant and diverse portfolio of Asian art. Spanning a wide swath of time from the 16th to the 20th century, this exhibit provides a look at an ever-changing culture across several different artistic channels. From scrolls and woodblocks to photographs and postcards, “The Traveler’s Eye” aptly explores Asian geography, history and society through the eyes of those who visited and were captivated by the continent. Here is what several of the seven expert curators had to say about the exhibit.

Stephen Allee, associate curator of Chinese painting and calligraphy (Chinese scrolls)

“Travel is a constant theme in Chinese art and literature. Whether it is government officials performing their duties and moving from post to post, farmers and tradesmen bringing products to the market and transporting goods over long distances, or private citizens going on pleasure excursions and day trips to local sights and places of scenic interest, the people of China were constantly on the move, filling the roads and rivers that united the empire in the common enterprise of daily life. These artworks provide a window into their experiences and bring this multifaceted array of human activity into vivid focus.”

COURTESY ARTHUR M. SACKLER GALLERY This print piece, titled “Swimmers and Diver, Scindia Ghat,” depicts artist Raghubir Singh’s memories of India.
COURTESY ARTHUR M. SACKLER GALLERY
This print piece, titled “Swimmers and Diver, Scindia Ghat,” depicts artist Raghubir Singh’s memories of India.

Carol Huh, associate curator of contemporary Asian art (Raghubir Singh photographs)

“The journey is a magical experience. In the end, it is a collection of moments when spaces — physical sites that many others may have visited — are transformed into unique, irretrievable places of encounter, imagination, and memories for each traveller.”

Nancy Micklewright, interim head of public and scholarly engagement (postcards)

“Most of the objects in an art museum like ours are very special — made by highly trained artists or craftsmen for an elite audience and treasured over the centuries. We love and revere them, in part, because of their uniqueness and value. In contrast, the postcards in the exhibit were ubiquitous, inexpensive and things which every visitor to the exhibition might have owned. They open up lots of conversations about travel, memory and mementos, as these were experienced among all segments of the population.”

COURTESY ARTHUR M. SACKLER GALLERY “Famous Places of the Fifty-Three Stations: Mishima” is a Japanese-styled woodblock.
COURTESY ARTHUR M. SACKLER GALLERY
“Famous Places of the Fifty-Three Stations: Mishima” is a Japanese-styled woodblock.

Ann Yonemura, senior associate curator of Japanese art (Japanese screens and prints)

“Hiroshige’s woodblock prints of the Tōkaidō vividly illustrate how travellers on foot experienced this vital route of some 300 miles between Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto over 150 years ago. Today, we travel along the Tōkaidō in vehicles on a highway or by high-speed train, yet some views like the sudden, looming appearance of Mount Fuji as the route passes close to the sacred mountain still inspire awe.”

James Ulak, senior curator of Japanese art (Japanese screens and prints)

“Every image of journey, every talisman of travel contains complex perspectives. Many of these are not obvious and often surprising. After seeing this exhibition, you’ll never look at a postcard or Instagram in the same way again.”

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