Guide to Puget Sound Art Museums
Puget Sound has more than one art museum! And for a short drive, you can see over 80 works by French artist Auguste Rodin (sculptor of The Thinker). No airfare to Paris required!
Seattle Art Museum Downtown
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
From its early 20th-century roots as the Seattle Fine Arts Society to its growth into an internationally renowned museum with three distinct venues, the Seattle Art Museum evolved into a vital Seattle institution. The original SAM opened to the public in 1933, and despite the country’s economic depression, 300,000 people visited the Seattle Art Museum within the first six months. Over time, a new facility was built in downtown Seattle, where the SAM now stands. It opened in 1991 to critical acclaim “as a catalyst for the stunning, ongoing revitalization of downtown Seattle,” according to the SAM website.
Once the downtown SAM opened (with a breathtaking exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass works), the original building closed for renovation. It reopened in 1994 as the Seattle Asian Art Museum(1400 E Prospect Street), a showcase for the museum’s world-renowned Asian collections and a community hub for Asian culture.
SAM’s third venue is a a nine-acre park, which opened in early 2007 as the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park(2901 Western Avenue), named by generous supporters Jon and Mary Shirley for its exquisite views over Elliott Bay of the Olympic Mountains. The park, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, immediately gained international attention, with seminal works by Richard Serra, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Louise Bourgeois and other artists.
Frye Art Museum
704 Terry Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Charles Frye (1858–1940) was the son of German immigrants who moved to America in 1846 to farm in Iowa. In 1888 Frye moved from Iowa to Seattle, where he purchased land and established a successful business. Frye and his wife Emma (1860–1934) became avid collectors and patrons of the arts. A 1930 newspaper article reports that Charles viewed his first oil painting in 1893 at age thirty-five. In 1909 the couple lent a French painting to Seattle’s Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (a World’s Fair celebrating the development of the Pacific Northwest), which indicates that they were probably well-known as collectors by this time. The Fryes displayed their paintings in their private quarters and in a purpose-built exhibition space attached to their home. Major philanthropic supporters of music in Seattle, the couple hosted concerts as well as charitable events in their art gallery. Charles and Emma Frye’s collection became the Founding Collection of the Frye Art Museum, which opened on February 8, 1952.
Bellevue Arts Museum
510 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
Bellevue Arts Museum is the Pacific Northwest’s center for the exploration of art, craft and design through exhibitions, educational programs and partnerships, emphasizing the work of regional artists. The Museum connects people of all ages with the extraordinary works of Northwest artists while bringing national and international collections to its community. Dynamic educational programs provide unique opportunities to connect with art and artists; past or present, experimental or established. Each July, BAM hosts one of the largest and most treasured art festivals of the year, the Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair.
Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402
Tacoma Art Museum was founded by a group of volunteers in 1935 and has since grown to become a national model for regional, mid-sized museums. The museum is dedicated to exhibiting and collecting Northwest art, with the mission of connecting people through art. The museum’s permanent collection includes the premier collection of Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork on permanent public display.
Tacoma Art Museum serves the diverse communities of the Northwest through its collection, exhibitions, and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest. Their vision is to be a national model for regional museums by creating a dynamic museum that engages, inspires, and builds community through art.
Maryhill Museum of Art
35 Maryhill Drive
Goldendale, WA 98620
Housed in a glorious Beaux Arts mansion on 5,300 acres high above the Columbia River, Maryhill Museum of Art opened to the public May 13, 1940 and today remains one of the Pacific Northwest’s most enchanting cultural destinations. The museum was founded by Northwest entrepreneur and visionary Sam Hill, who purchased the property and began building the house with dreams of establishing a Quaker farming community. When that goal proved untenable, Hill was encouraged by friends Loie Fuller, Queen Marie of Romania, and Alma de Bretteville Spreckles to establish a museum.
Maryhill Museum of Art boasts a world-class permanent collection, rotating exhibitions of the highest caliber, and dynamic educational programs that provide opportunities for further exploration by visitors of all ages. On view are more than 80 works by Auguste Rodin, European and American paintings, objects d’art from the palaces of the Queen of Romania, Orthodox icons, unique chess sets, and the renowned Théâtre de la Mode, featuring small-scale mannequins attired in designer fashions of post-World War II France. Baskets of the indigenous people of North America were a collecting interest of Hill; today the museum’s Native American collection represents nearly every tradition and style in North America, with works of art from prehistoric through contemporary.