Recently, I’ve found myself longing to take advantage of the Smithsonian Museums that are so conveniently located ten miles northeast of my home—maybe it’s because such destinations were closed for a long period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I figured that I might as well take advantage of these attractions re-opening and welcoming guests. Only a select few Smithsonian venues have opened their doors and so I decided to visit one that I’ve always enjoyed in the past, the Freer Gallery of Art. The Freer Gallery of Art boasts an impressive collection of art from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Islamic world, and the Middle East. The collections range from the late Neolithic period to the modern era- there is certainly plenty to see. One of the main attractions located in the Freer Gallery is the Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room. This is a beautifully decorated room that serves as a lasting example of aestheticism. Despite the beauty and enveloping nature of the Peacock Room, I found my humanities moment in other places within the museum.

My humanities moment came to me while viewing pottery, porcelain, ceramics, paintings, and sculptures from East Asia and South Asia. The connections to be made between cultures in India, China, and Korea, simply by identifying the similarities and trends in the artifacts seemed endless. Whether it was a ceramic-making technique or the spread and artistic display of Buddhism that could be traced across civilizations—regional interaction was present. Part of being a Social Studies teacher is facilitating the process of students making connections through the examination of regional interactions across time. Making those connections helps students be more globally-minded citizens.

– G. Lee (Social Studies Teacher)