nataliw, Author at Reimagined. Reinstalled. Reopening.

nataliw, Author at Reimagined. Reinstalled. Reopening.


Reimagined, Reinstalled, Reopening February 8, 2020

We are so excited to announce that the Seattle Asian Art Museum—our historic home in Volunteer Park—will reopen on Saturday, February 8, 2020, following a 24-month-long renovation and expansion. We’ve addressed the critical needs of this 1933 Art Deco building for infrastructure, accessibility, and program space and now we are busy moving our Asian art collection back home.

The first update visitors will notice is to the park itself. Working from the original Olmsted Brothers design, the Walker Macy firm oversaw landscape renovations that created paths surrounding the museum, which were part of original plans. Other exterior updates include a more direct route between the museum and public transit on 15th Avenue, as well as improved ADA accessibility.

the fountain in the Fuller Gard Court

Visitors approaching the museum’s historic building will be welcomed with a freshly restored, iconic Art Deco sandstone façade, reglazed glass, and cleaned metalwork. Inside the building, visitors will be greeted by a light-filled lobby and renovated Garden Court with a newly revealed original historic fountain. Through the Garden Court, the lush greenery of Volunteer Park is now visible through the glass-enclosed park lobby expansion on the east side of the building.

view of the park lobby with glass walls overlooking the trees in Volunteer Park

One of the biggest changes visitors will find is in the presentation of the art. The expanded and improved space allows new stories of the collection to come to light amid changing definitions of Asian art in the 21st century. Ping Foong, Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art; Xiaojin Wu, Curator of Japanese and Korean Art; and Darielle Mason, guest curator of South Asian Art, collaborated on a dramatic and innovative reimagining of the collection in Boundless: Stories of Asian Art. The inaugural special exhibition Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art draws from SAM’s collection to focus on art being made now by Asian artists living around the world.

Asian Art Museum camel in front of the building's Art Deco doorway

A free community celebration will welcome visitors back to the museum on February 8 and 9, 2020. It will feature two 12-hour days (9 am–9 pm) of programs reflecting the 12 themes of the reimagined collection galleries. Free tickets to this weekend-long event will be available to reserve later this winter.

Photos: Adam Hunter, Tim Griffith, and Natali Wiseman.


Main Construction Phase Completed

Visitors to Volunteer Park may have noticed that the construction fencing has been taken down around the Seattle Asian Art Museum and that new grass has been planted. While the museum is not yet ready to reopen, we are pleased to note that the main construction phase of the Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation and expansion project has been completed.

On Friday, June 21, 2019, the City issued a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, and responsibility for the building was officially returned to the Seattle Art Museum from BNBuilders. There is still much work to do inside the building, as the project begins final preparations for the art to be returned to the building—from testing the climate control systems to finalizing lighting and interior finishes to moving in case work for the display of art.

In addition to the completed expansion to the building’s east side, visitors to the park can already see some of the final results of the Seattle Asian Art Museum project. Immediately apparent is the stunning Art Deco metalwork at the iconic building’s front entrance that has been cleaned and fully restored. And the opaque finish on the glass used for the entrance has been removed, so for the first time in decades the windows are transparent, allowing visitors to see into the museum and even into the park beyond.

Work on the project continues, but each day brings us closer to the reopening of this cultural gem.


Daisy Beach

Enclosed find a photo taken of me in the winter of 1941 – nearly 78 years ago. I’m still around and so is the Art Museum. I grew up on Capitol Hill and my friends and I were often at the Museum, especially the Saturday movies. I’m happy to support the making the icon effort.

All the best,
Daisy Beach