Charles Lang Freer, Chinese Art, and the Making of Global Detroit

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Date: February 23, 2023
Time: 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Location: Virtual event
Category: Lecture

WSU, Freer House and the Friends of Asian Arts & Cultures, Detroit Institute of Arts are pleased to present:

Charles Lang Freer, Chinese Art, and the Making of Global Detroit

Join us February 23, 2022 6:00 PM (ET) on Zoom
for a virtual lecture by
Ian Shin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Departments of History and American Culture University of Michigan


In the first decades of the 20th century, art collector and philanthropist Charles Lang Freer helped make Michigan–especially Detroit and Ann Arborinto a global hub for the collecting and study of Chinese art.  How did Freer, founder of the Freer Gallery of Art (now part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art), connect Detroit with people, institutions, and artworks across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans? And how did these cultural networks relate to and amplify the rising political and economic power of the United States in the early 20th century?

Ian Shin, Assistant Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan, will discuss how Freer’s genuine desire to learn about and care for Chinese art and antiquities positioned Michigan in the vanguard of what foreign policymakers today call “America’s Pacific Century.” There will be a Q&A with Dr. Shin after his lecture.

About the Speaker: 
Ian Shin is assistant professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan, teaching the history of U.S. foreign relations and Asian Pacific Islander American studies. He’s currently completing his first book, Imperial Stewards: Chinese Art and the Cultural Origins of America’s Pacific Century. Dr. Shin’s writings have appeared in the Journal of American-East Asian Relations, Journal of Asian American Studies, The Public Historian, and Connecticut Historical Review. He has also contributed commentary to the BBC World Service, Los Angeles Times, and The History Channel. He serves as vice president of the board of directors of the Association of Chinese Americans, a nonprofit organization providing social services, cultural programs, and advocacy for the Asian American community in southeast Michigan. He received his PhD from Columbia University.

Today WSU Freer House is home WSU Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute faculty offices and meeting room facilities.

Click HERE to take a virtual tour of the Main Hall of the Freer House! Our sincere thanks to John Boros and Flythroo for producing this 3D tour!

The mission of the Freer House Membership is to preserve and restore the Charles L. Freer House, and raise awareness of Freer's legacy in the cultural history of Detroit and the nation.

Vibrant communities preserve their historic structures and gardens and celebrate their stories. By joining the Freer House, you will help protect one of Detroit's most important architectural treasures. Membership includes reduced admission to lectures and events.

February 2023