Arthur M. Sackler Museum

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Not to be confused with Sackler Gallery.
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum
Sackler Museum, Harvard University.jpg
Established 1985
Location 485 Broadway, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Director Thomas W. Lentz
Public transit access MBTA Harvard Handicapped/disabled access

Opened in 1985, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum joined the Fogg Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum as part of the Harvard Art Museums. The museum building, which was designed by British architect James Stirling, also housed offices for the History of Art and Architecture faculty, as well as the Digital Images and Slides Collection of the Fine Arts Library. As of 2015, the old Arthur M. Sackler Museum building is underutilized and has an uncertain future, as the collection has been moved to the newly renovated and expanded Harvard Art Museums building on the site of the old Fogg Museum.


The museum collection holds important collections of Asian art, most notably, archaic Chinese jades (the widest collection outside of China) and Japanese surimono, as well as outstanding Chinese bronzes, ceremonial weapons, Buddhist cave-temple sculptures, ceramics from China and Korea, Japanese works on paper, and lacquer boxes.[1]

The ancient Mediterranean and Byzantine collections comprise significant works in all media from Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Near East. Strengths include Greek vases, small bronzes, and coins from throughout the ancient Mediterranean world.

The museum also holds works on paper from Islamic lands and India, including paintings, drawings, calligraphy, and manuscript illustrations, with particular strength in Rajput art, as well as important Islamic ceramics from the 8th through 19th century.

Reorganization and closure[edit]

In 2008, the 32 Quincy Street building that formerly housed the Fogg Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum closed for a major renovation project to create a new museum building designed by architect Renzo Piano that would house all three museums in one facility. During the renovation, selected works from all three museums were on display at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

The newly renovated and expanded building was opened in 2014, under the name "Harvard Art Museums", and holding the consolidated collections of all three museums. As of 2015, the old Arthur M. Sackler Museum building is underutilized, and has an uncertain future.


"James Stirling has dealt in a very high kind of order and organisation in the design of the [Sackler Museum]: this is a dense, tight plan on a small restricted site that brilliantly solves administrative and gallery needs. The building is remarkable for the creative virtuosity with which its functions are accommodated while suggesting a monumentality that belies actual dimensions. Stirling was lucky to have as a client the director of the Fogg [Museum], Seymour Slive, who understood this achievement immediately. Professors John Coolidge and Neil Levine...complete a formidable triumvirate of sympathetic experts." Ada Louise Huxtable, "A Style Chrstallised"

The Sackler Museum, originally designed as an extension to the Fogg, elicited world-wide attention from the time of Harvard's commission of Stirling to design the building, following a selection process that evaluated more than 70 architects. As a measure of the excitement generated by the project, the University mounted an exhibition of the architects' preliminary design drawings in 1981, "James Stirling's Design to Expand the Fogg Museum," and issued a portfolio of Stirling's drawings to the press. The range of publications that discussed the project included Architecture and Urbanism, Art in America (S. McFadden), Casabella (Massimo Scolari), Lotus, the Architectural Review (Peter Buchanan, John Coolidge), The Boston Globe (Robert Campbell (journalist)), Time Magazine (Robert Hughes (critic)), The New Boston Review (Gary Wolf), Skyline (E. Constantine), Express (K. Michael Hays), and the GSD News from Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

After completion, the building's coverage was even greater, with general acknowledgment of the building's significance as a Stirling design and a Harvard undertaking. Aside from descriptions of the building's organization and exterior appearance, perhaps most noted was the way in which the inventive design accommodated its diverse program on a challenging site. Harvard published a 50-page book on the Sackler, with extensive color photos by Timothy Hursley, an interview with Stirling by Michael Dennis, a tribute to Arthur M. Sackler, and essays by Slive, Coolidge and Rosenfield.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Arthur M Sackler Museum". Time Out North America. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 

External links[edit]