LED-Light Canopy Designed by Seattle-born Artist Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chin Welcomes Visitors
Asian art lovers, rejoice! This weekend, February 8th and 9th, marks the Grand Reopening of Seattle Asian Art Museum, “Reimagined. Revitalized. Reinstalled.” After nearly three years of renovation, the historic 1933 Art Deco building looks like its former self, only better – well-rested and rejuvenated, just like any of us who have enjoyed a long wellness sabbatical.
Overview of New Seattle Asian Art Museum
Glass-Enclosed Park Lobby
Under the direction of LMN Architects, the museum has been retrofitted for seismic activity, climate-controlled, cleaned and scrubbed, and expanded to enhance its connection both within the park and the greater community at large. In short, the update is stunning.
In addition to the infrastructure renovations (mechanical and environmental systems), visitors will discover a new thematic approach to the artwork collection within the only free-standing museum devoted exclusively to Asian art in the U.S. Rather than organizing the galleries geographically or chronologically, the exhibits display a cross-cultural sensibility.
Beyond the significant infrastructure renovations, the beautiful art deco facade has been restored to its former glory. In a respectful nod to the past, the architects have replaced the tinted glass in the entryway by clear glass as had been designed originally. And while new flooring and new auditorium seating have been installed, each reflects the style of the original design. Also, exterior pathways designed by the famed Olmsted brothers have been restored as have three original fountains (two exterior, one interior).
Expanded Space in Park Lobby Creates Visual Connection with Volunteer Park
Though visitors won’t discover the addition of an on-site cafeteria or expanded gift shop as part of the new development, there are plenty of other surprises.
On the east side of the building, the new 1,247-square-foot, floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed park lobby immerses the visitor not only in the artwork on display but in the surrounding nature outside. In the Fuller Garden Court, two new portals that open onto the park lobby have been added. A new art elevator and receiving/loading dock allows the facility to showcase larger art forms that previously were limited
Staggered Seating Enhances Sight Lines
Downstairs a new multi-purpose glass-enclosed 2,650-square-foot gallery anchors the expanded space. Adjacent to the gallery, for the first time in the museum’s history, a dedicated educational studio provides opportunities for students to engage with, and learn from, visiting artists. “Take a good look,” says Regan Pro, Director for Education and Public Programs. “Once the students get in here, it will never be this quiet or this clean again, and that’s glorious.”
Rounding out the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s downstairs venues is a new community meeting room, plus a conservation center with space for mounting fragile scrolls. For best tips on preserving and hanging scrolls, check out this article on the museum website.
The Asian Art Collection
The Seattle Asian Museum collection highlights artworks across Asia, with a strong foundation in Japanese and Chinese art, thanks to founder Dr. Richard E. Fuller. But visitors can also explore Korea, India, and Southeast Asia through the art objects on display. As Xiaojin Wu, Curator of Japanese and Korean Art explains the intent behind Boundless, the new thematic organization: “We always kept the visitor in mind, looking for ways to ignite questions and spark wonder.”
Visitors can explore stories of spiritual traditions, the natural world, precious objects, and the afterlife, among others, within 13 distinct galleries.
Here are a few selected images that captured my imagination:
Colored Vases by Artist Ai Weiwei
Flower Ball by Artist Takashi Murakami
Green Waves by Artist Tsuji Kako
For more information, visit Seattle Asian Art Museum.
You might also enjoy the following posts about previous exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum: