Technically, a museum is a repository of artistic works of times old and new. It is where artworks are collected and preserved for the forthcoming generations to observe and study. But we know that it is definitely more than just a repository. It is rather a storehouse of the creations of art by some of the greatest artists in history. It is an exhibit of magnificent art and its splendor, worth years of research. The Seattle Art Museum is one such art museum located in Seattle, Washington. It is one of the most famed museums of the USA.
Seattle Art Museum is one museum on three distinct sites; namely, Seattle Art Museum downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. It is where an association between art and life can be said to have been established. It is where pieces of art reflect the art of living through brilliant portrayals of life.
In 1933, about 2000 pieces of art were displayed in the museum. The collection has grown to 25,000 till 2008. Not only has the collection grown but there has also been a good rise in facilities offered by the museum and the number of people visiting it. Originally, the museum occupied an area of about 25,000 square feet, whereas today, the facilities provide an area of 312,000 square feet with a spacious 9-acre land area for a park. The museum started with a staff of 7, which went up to 303 over time.
The Seattle Art Museum originated from the Seattle Fine Arts Society established in 1905 and the Washington Arts Association that was formed in 1906. The two institutions merged in 1917. In 1931, the group was named as the Art Institute of Seattle. During the early years after the establishment of the organization, Richard Fuller was an active member and the President of the Seattle Fine Arts Society. He, with his mother funded $250,000 towards building an art museum in Volunteer Park. The city provided the land. Later, Carl Gould, a leading architect of the Pacific Northwest designed an Art Deco building for the museum. The art museum opened on June 23, 1933.
The collection with the Art Institute and the artworks donated by the Fullers formed a major portion of this museum's collection. Fuller assumed the position of museum director. He never took a penny for his service. In 1991, the art collection in the Art Deco building was moved to a newly built Seattle Art Museum building located in downtown Seattle.
The Seattle Asian Art Museum that forms a part of the Seattle Art Museum is located inside the Volunteer Park. The Art Deco building, which originally housed the museum's collection, is now the location of Seattle Asian Art Museum. There is a special facility of free admission into the museum on the first Saturday and the first Thursday of every month.
The Olympic Sculpture Park, which is one of the striking features of this museum, opened on January 20, 2007. It consists of an outdoor museum and a beach. Ann and John Shirley, former CEO of Microsoft and the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Seattle Art Museum, donated $30 million for the Olympic Sculpture Park and became pioneers in its establishment. Since the park hosts an outdoor display of art, the pieces of art are exposed to the environment. Hence the maintenance of the sculptures is a major concern. Some of the very famous works such as Wake by Richard Serra, Split by Roxy Paine, Eagle by Alexander Calder, Father and Son by Louise Bourgeois, and many others, form a part of the Olympic Sculpture Park's collection.
The museum arranges special visits for school students and discounted tours for large groups. There are special arrangements for physically challenged visitors. The museum hosts a variety of shows, exhibitions, gallery talks, and lectures from time to time. It always encourages new artists to display their works. It has preserved a great treasure of the 'old' and is always looking forward to greeting the 'new'.