Freer reopens, Newseum on the rocks, Bible museum premieres

Colleen Dugan

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Freer Gallery of Art is reopening after an 18-month renovation.

The Freer Gallery of Art will showcase Chinese bells and Asian Buddhas this weekend as it celebrates its reopening after an 18-month renovation. Together with the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s Asian arts museums host all-new exhibitions and an outdoor festival celebrating Asian art and culture.

The Freer’s Italian Renaissance interiors have been burnished and buffed to recall 1923, when the building opened as the Smithsonian’s first art museum.

The Freer was founded by Detroit businessman Charles Lang Freer, who gave his art collection and money to build and endow a gallery in Washington. The museum was designed by Charles A. Platt and opened in 1923. Its sister museum, the Sackler, opened in 1987.

Subodh Gupta/Arken Museum of Modern Art

Freer Gallery of Art

“Terminal” by Subodh Gupta, 2010. Brass, thread.

The renovated galleries will host four special shows: “Terminal,” an installation by artist Subodh Gupta; “Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia”; “Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt”; and “Resound: Ancient Bells of China.” The outdoor festival of music and food continues through Sunday afternoon.

The real stars, however, are the elegant galleries and central court, which have been returned to their neoclassical splendor. asia.si.edu

Michael S. Williamson

The Washington Post

The children’s area at the Museum of the Bible, which is still under construction.

On the horizon:

The Museum of the Bible welcomes the public Nov. 18 with 430,000 square feet of exhibitions, stories and Disney-like amusements just a few blocks from the Mall.

The exhibitions focus on the impact, history and stories of the Bible, including a children’s space and the re-creation of a Nazareth village. The museum also houses a theater, restaurant, garden and gift shop. museumofthebible.org

H. Keith Melton Collection

International Spy Museum

A German 4 Rotor Enigma featuring handwritten Japanese characters, on view at the International Spy Museum.

On the runway:

The International Spy Museum plans to open its new and larger space at L’Enfant Plaza in 2018. The 140,000-square-foot facility will double the space and allow the museum to expand its focus on intelligence-gathering. Key to the new exhibitions are artifacts recently donated by author and founding board member H. Keith Melton, who amassed one of the world’s largest private collections of espionage artifacts. Melton’s donation, announced last month, triples the size of the museum’s holdings. spymuseum.org

On the rocks:

The Newseum may close after a decade of financial struggle, according to officials who said in August that they had begun a financial review. Chief executive Jeffrey Herbst stepped down the same day. Officials at the Freedom Forum, the primary supporters of the Pennsylvania Avenue facility, said the foundation has spent more than $500 million to build and operate the museum, which first opened in Arlington before moving to Washington in 2008. The Newseum will remain open during the review, which is expected to take several months. ­newseum.org

Astrid Riecken

For The Washington Post

A touch screen providing visitors with additional background information of the lives of the presidents at the National Portrait Gallery.

At the ready

The National Portrait Gallery’s popular presidential portraits gallery reopened last month after a six-month renovation. The gallery hadn’t been updated since 2006, so in addition to new paint, carpeting and lighting, the exhibit received a technological makeover with the addition of touch screens that allow visitors to explore artifacts and images of each president and information about their achievements and challenges. npg.si.edu