A disclaimer: Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of Chinese art. Like traditional Chinese furniture, I find much of it be oppressive and clinical in form and presentation, technically proficient (extremely so!) but lacking a certain warmth. The great exception is landscape painting, the kind done in ink on hanging scrolls, but there were only a couple of examples on display this afternoon at the museum, and both of them dated from the 20th century. So I came away from the Sackler Gallery feeling a little underwhelmed, especially in comparison to the small but interesting collection of Japanese art to be found in the adjacent Freer Gallery. I suppose if one really wants to be wowed by China's many centuries' worth of artistic achievements, the place to go is the National Palace Museum (Gùgōng Bówùyuàn) 故宮博物院 in Taipei (Táiběi) 台北, though I hear the place is overrun these days by the tour group hordes coming over from the Chinese mainland.
One place that did live up to expectations at the Sackler Gallery was the gift shop. I walked away with a book on ukiyoe 浮世絵 woodblock prints, The Rough Guide to the music of Japan CD and, for my daughter, a children's book called Celebrating Chinese Festivals, the latter because my wife doesn't seem all that interested in keeping Amber in touch with the other side of her bi-cultural identity. I can only hope my bad knee can bear the extra burden :-)