Reimagined. Reinstalled. Reopening. - Asian Art Museum – Feb 8 2020


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Today’s Seattle Asian Art Museum is inspired. The newly renovated and expanded museum breaks boundaries to offer a thematic, rather than geographic or chronological, exploration of art from the world’s largest continent. The restoration of the historic Art Deco building, improvements to critical systems, expanded gallery and education spaces, and a new park lobby that connects the museum to the surrounding Volunteer Park are just some of the ways the museum has been transformed and preserved as a cultural and community resource for future generations.

You will no longer find galleries labeled China, Japan, or India. Instead, vibrant artworks from Vietnam to Iran, and everywhere in between, come together to tell stories of human experiences across time and place. From themes of worship and celebration to clothing and identity, nature and power to birth and death, the new collection installation reveals the complexity and diversity of Asia—a place of distinct cultures, histories, and belief systems that help shape our world today.

Placing a bodhisattva from Pakistan, a stupa from India, and a demon from China side by side reveals unifying ideas such as spiritual guides and guardians while sharing culturally specific meanings. Find out more about the stories of specific artworks from a wide range of perspectives including SAM’s curators, artists, and community members through in-gallery texts, videos, and free multimedia smartphone tours offering rich and fun topics for adult and K–5 visitors.

Through a $3.5M challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a new Asian Paintings Conservation Center at the museum is devoted to the conservation, mounting, and study of Asian paintings. The new conservation center serves the museum’s collection as well as institutional and private collections in the region. Stop by to learn about the conservation of Asian paintings on the monitor outside the studio and peek through the public viewing window into the conservation space to see the progress!

When the museum reopens, community spaces and the library will not be available in order to limit contact and maintain physical distance, however a smartphone tour is available for free during your visit. The Gardner Center for Asian Arts and Ideas will continue to offer virtual programs for the time being for Asian art lovers to enjoy.


Boundless: Stories of Asian Art

As the world’s largest and most populated continent, Asia is not uniform or fixed: its boundaries shift, its people and cultures are diverse, and its histories are complex. The new presentation of our collection embraces this complexity by displaying works according to themes that are central to Asia’s arts and societies. You will not find galleries labeled China, Japan, or India. Instead, each gallery proposes an idea so that great works from different cultures and from ancient to contemporary times come together to tell broader stories of Asian art.

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Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art

Vast, vibrant, and rapidly changing, Asia is a fertile ground for contemporary artists. The 12 artists in in this exhibition were born in different parts of Asia: Azerbaijan, Iran, India, Thailand, China, Korea, and Japan. All of the artists have worked or are still working outside Asia—their experiences as both insiders and outsiders inspire artworks that are at once Asian and global while addressing identity and belonging.

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Visit today’s Seattle Asian Art Museum
From grand, ancient Buddhist sculptures to our iconic 17th-century Japanese Crows screens to Colored Vases by contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, our collection has been imaginatively curated and beautifully installed. Built in 1933 as Seattle Art Museum’s original home, the historic Art Deco building in Volunteer Park became the home to SAM’s exceptional Asian art collection in 1994 as one of only a few museums in the United States dedicated to the arts of Asia. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is a beloved treasure in a creative, cultured, and curious city.

Plan Your Visit


The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas »
Offering dynamic public programs at the Asian Art Museum, the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas hosts events that explore the vast diversity of Asia, its presence in the world, and the wide range of artistic expression. A new space within the expanded Asian Art Museum provides support for Asian art lovers to go deeper into the concepts behind the talks, films, and performances presented by the Gardner Center.

McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art »
Located on the lower level, the library offers extensive research materials related to SAM’s Asian art collection and the history of Asia. The library is open to the public by appointment; email to schedule a visit at

The Future Ancient »
The Future Ancient is a series of workshops, performances, temporary public art, and community festivities curated by Che Sehyun that celebrates the reopening of the Asian Art Museum. Managed by the Office of Arts & Culture, The Future Ancient will be presented in and around the Asian Art Museum through the City of Seattle’s 1% for Art program with the goal of showcasing the incredible talent of local Asian/Pacific Islander artists and community who value their cultural heritage in a future-forward and socially transformative way.

Education Resource Center »
The Education Resource Center (ERC) at SAM’s downtown location has many free resources related to all three of our locations. Take a look at the Asian Art Museum Educator Resource Guide in advance of a visit with students!

Restore the Heart of SAM

Share your memories!

For generations, children and adults have climbed atop the famed camels flanking the front door of the Seattle Asian Art Museum before entering the building to experience art and culture from around the globe. Now you can share your pictures and memories with SAM and the community! Submit photos of you and your loved ones posing with the camels and tell us your story.

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