It’s felt like the Sackler Gallery’s 25th anniversary has been celebrated for at least
the past year, with two big parties, but the actual grand gala happened Thursday night,
and Dame Jillian Sackler herself was there to greet guests for the luxe affair. It’s
not every evening in Washington that one is welcomed to a party by the host and promptly
offered a glass of chilled Moet & Chandon Champagne.
The Asian-inspired dinner menu began with a bento box containing curry-coconut shrimp
with rice noodles, tofu-eggplant salad, poached lobster with dill, and orange segments
with endive and hearts of palm. The second course was five-spice short ribs with wasabi
mashed potatoes and knotted Asian long beans, followed by a dessert of traditional
kulfi, a confection of milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla bean.
The Sackler was done up in its very best party finery, matched only by the finery
of guests, including imports such as
Princess Michael of Kent and
Baroness Aziza Allard from England,
Prince and Princess Johannes von Auesperg from Austria, and business mogul
Shafik Gabr of Egypt. But it was an evening for Washingtonians, especially those who have an
interest in the Asian arts. The Sackler was founded by the late Arthur M. Sackler,
who endowed the mostly underground gallery with 1,000 objects from India, China, Japan,
and other parts of Asia, as well as $4 million to build the museum. It is part of
the Smithsonian Institution.
The familiar faces on hand included House minority leader
Susan and Michael Pillsbury,
Mary and Mandy Ourisman,
John and Joann Mason, Greek ambassador
Winston Bao Lord,
Raul Fernandez, former empress of Iran
Adrienne Arsht, and British ambassador Sir
Peter Westmacott and his wife,
Following the dinner there was dancing for the dinner guests as well as others who
were invited only for dessert.
The Sackler, and the conjoined Freer Gallery, are open every day except Christmas
from 10 to 5:30. Admission is free.