Like two conspiring schoolgirls, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Jillian Sackler held hands and giggled as they walked through the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition last night at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
The occasion was the 25th anniversary gala of the Smithsonian collection of Asian art and antiquities named for Jillian Sackler’s late husband.
Pelosi was in pale-blue Jean Muir and Sackler in champagne Carolina Herrera. “I invited her,” Sackler said of the fashion designer. “She was in London.”
Arthur Sackler died just months before the unveiling of the museum in 1987. His widow said he lived long enough to see its installation and thought it was amusing that the museum was underground as that’s where most of his Asian artifacts were found.
Guests were greeted by gala co-chairwomen Ann Nitze and Susan Pillsbury, both Washington private-art collectors.
Princess Michael of Kent, in off-the-shoulder white, sat between Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough and Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary.
“We’re cousins,” the ambassador said proudly about his connection to the royal guest.
Nearby sat Egyptian tycoon Mohammed Shafik Gabr, founder and chairman of Artoc Group for Investment and Development.
He’s adding Washington to his stable of international homes and deciding which pieces from his vast Ludwig Deutsch and Orientalist art collection to add to his place in the capital’s Northwest district.
The evening was a reunion of sorts for New York Museum of Modern Art Director Glenn Lowry who worked with the late Sackler as a young curator in the Washington museum’s early days. He attended with his wife, Susan, and moderated a panel discussion on art and diplomacy with artist Jeff Koons right before the gala, as part of the Department of State’s Art in Embassies celebration.
The 400 guests gathered for dinner at tables adorned with pink and purple orchids. The heated tent outside the museum was scattered with rose petals, while butterflies dangled from the ceiling.
The first course was a bento box with shrimp, lobster and rice noodles served with Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012. The entree was short ribs followed by Indian ice cream. A champagne toast was made with Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial. Violinist Amadeus Leopold played “Over the Rainbow.”
An after-party hosted by the Silk Road Society, the museum’s young professionals’ organization, closed out the celebrations with drinking, desserts and dancing in the upstairs gallery, which is anchored by an Ai Weiwei work.
The Rubenstein Family Organ made its debut Tuesday night at a free concert in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall.
Rubenstein attended the celebratory concert and after-party with his parents, Bob and Bettie Rubenstein, who made the trip from Florida to hear their namesake organ.
Organist William Neil inaugurated the 4,972 pipes with Bach’s haunting “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” He joined the National Symphony Orchestra for Saint-Saens’s “Organ Symphony.”
The Casavant Freres organ was purchased in Canada after an exhaustive search and underwent months of redesign, installation, and tonal finishing to get it ready for its big day.
Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and board member Adrienne Arsht were also in attendance.
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