Staff Biographies

Julian Raby

The Dame Jillian Sackler Director, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art

September 1, 2017

Julian Raby was appointed director of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in March 2002. He will retire from his position at the beginning of 2018 after 15 years at the Smithsonian.

As director of the Freer|Sackler, he has championed such popular exhibitions as “Return of the Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries” (2004), “Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey” (2005), “Hokusai” (2006), “Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries” (2007), “Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur” (2008), “Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in The Moscow Kremlin” (2009), “Yoga: The Art of Transformation“ (2013), “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan” (2016) and “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art” (2016).

In addition, Raby has served as curator, concept designer and consultant for numerous museum exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including the landmark “Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey” at the Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul (1989), “Empire of the Sultans: Ottoman Art from the Khalili Collection” (1995), “Royal Persian Painting: The Qajar Epoch” at the Brunei Gallery School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London (1999) and “Portraits of the Sultan: Picturing the House of Osman” at the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul (2000).

Raby also has extensive experience in the field of publishing, where he has distinguished himself in the area of Asian studies as an author, editor and publisher. At Oxford, he was the series founder and series editor of Oxford Studies in Islamic Art. Raby served as the monographs editor for the British Institute of Archaeology and History in Amman, Jordan (1991-1993). He is the founder and former co-owner of Azimuth Editions, a major publisher in the field of Asian studies.

Raby is the author of numerous papers, articles and books in the field of Islamic art, including “Venice, Dürer and the Oriental Mode” (1982); “Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey” (London, 1989), “Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, The Foundation of a Court Style” (1993) and “Qajar Portraits” (London, 1999).

Raby was born in London. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from Magdalen College at the University of Oxford (1971), where he also earned his doctorate in Oriental Studies (1981).  His affiliation with Oxford grew to include a prominent role as university lecturer in Islamic art and architecture (1979 to present), chairman of curators of the Oriental Institute (1991–1993 and 1995–2000) and chairman of the Board of the Faculty of Oriental Studies (1993–1995). During his time as chairman of curators, Raby was closely involved with the creation of the Oxford University Teaching and Research Unit in Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

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Julian Raby

Julian Raby was appointed director of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in March 2002.