The Peacock Room-James McNeill Whistler’s masterpiece

James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room

“The Peacock Room” by Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery

Yesterday, we made a trip downtown to The Freer Gallery of Art to see The Peacock Room considered by many to be one of James McNeill Whistler’s masterpieces. We made a afternoon of it and wandered through both the Freer Gallery and the adjoining Sackler Gallery. It is hard for me to explain how in all my years living in the area and all my trips down to the museums on The Mall why I have never been to see The Peacock Room. Thanks to my mom’s persistence I finally made the time. Normally closed to the outdoor light to protect the paint in the room from fading, on the third Thursday of every month (check the schedule) the shutters in the room are thrown open for a few hours to allow the sunlight in for visitors to view the room in natural light. This is certainly the best time to go see the rich beauty of  of Whistler’s amazing creation.

Whistler's Peacock Room

A rare monthly event when The Peacock Room is opened up to natural light for the public to see.

What makes the trip even more interesting is to read up on the back story of The Peacock Room. Whistler was a controversial figure during his time due to his over bearing personality. Many of his peers found him arrogant and self centered. But there is no doubt about his massive talent and the quality of the works that he created. The story of The Peacock Room is too long to recount here. Save to say, that it ended a friendship between the wealthy owner of the room and Whistler who seems to have gotten a bit carried away while he completed the room when the owner was away.

Whistler's Peacock Room details

Close up of the details on the door to James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room

You really have no excuse for not visiting The Peacock Room at The Freer Gallery of Art. As with so many things in Washington DC admission to the art gallery is free. (How much longer will this last?) So, for the cost of the parking meter or a Metro ticket, you are on you way to a cheap date that is both fun and fulfilling. The Freer is located on Independence Avenue very close to the Old Castle Building. There is metered parking on the street and we had not trouble finding a space but usually they are limited to  two hour. Metro is easy to take and probably the better choice if you are planning to make a day of it. For a limited time you will get a double treat with a visit to The Sackler/Freer Gallery of Art. On your visit make sure to see The Peacock Room REMIX: Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre  in the adjoining Sackler Gallery.  It is a life sized artist’s rendition of the original room gone wild and a work of genius in itself.


Ah, I have made you famous. My work will live when you are forgotten. Still, per chance, in the dim ages to come you will be remembered as the proprietor of the Peacock Room.[ Whistler

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