This weekend, the Smithsonian's two Asian art museums, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, are hosting a reopening festival, IlluminAsia, following a renovation. The Freer, which first opened in 1923, closed in January 2016 for the project, and the much newer Sackler, opened in 1987, followed in July of this year. The Freer Gallery's renovation included a $14 million HVAC system replacement, as well as the removal of carpets and restoration of the original terrazzo floors. "I suppose you could say we've done a lot of very little," said Julian Raby, the director of the sister museums, at a press preview on Wednesday. New lighting and audiovisual systems were installed in the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Auditorium, and the exterior was cleaned and restored.
"It is a series of minimal changes," Raby said earlier this month at the Washington Foreign Press Center. "But each one of them together has meant that we’ve achieved a reductive aesthetic where the aura of the room is important, where the museum itself is a work of art, and where we hope we’re encouraging slow looking."