The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has 3 locations in the Seattle area. The main museum is located in downtown Seattle, the Asian Art Museum is at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill, and the Olympic Sculpture Garden is on the waterfront. These 3 distinct museums make up the whole of the SAM and cater to a variety of patrons. As a hub for art lovers in the Emerald City, SAM offers a wide variety of exhibits for people of all ages.
Seattle Art Museum
1300 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 654-3100

The museum is home to first-class exhibits, a research library, SAM Books, SAM Shop, SAM Gallery, and the cafe Taste. The library, shops, and cafe are accessible without an admission fee. SAM’s hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day(2015) and every Tuesday.

History Of The Museum

The Seattle Art Museum was established in 1933, originally located at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill which is currently home to the Seattle Art Asian Museum. The original collection included 1,926 pieces, expanding to around 25,000 by 2008. The group behind the development of the museum was the Seattle Fine Arts Society (1905) and the Washington Arts Association (1906), which combined forces in 1917 and chose the name Fine Arts Society. The original museum was built during the Great Depression with land provided by the city and money donated by Richard E. Fuller and his mother. The museum moved to its downtown location in 1991. The original building at Volunteer Park opened as the Asian Art Museum in 1994, and the Olympic Sculpture Park opened in 2007.


Admission, which varies to age group, allows patrons to view all SAM exhibits, special exhibits and special installations. Admissions help support the museum and are as follows: Adults $19.50, Seniors (62+) and Military (with ID) $17.50, Students (with ID) and Teens (13-19) $12.50, Children (12 & under) and SAM Members are Free.

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Getting There/Parking

From either direction on I-5, use the Seneca St. exit (#165 north bound or #165B south bound), and go west towards Puget Sound.

North bound traffic will use Seneca St. from I-5 to 1st Ave., go north on 1st Ave, and SAM will be in between Union and University streets on the right.

South bound traffic will use Union St. from I-5 to 1st Ave. with SAM being on the left.

Travelers coming from the east side of Lake Washington should use I-90 to I-5, and merge onto northbound I-5. Use the Madison St. exit (2C), and turn left onto Madison going towards Puget Sound. At 1st Ave., turn right, and SAM will be on the right in between Union and University streets.

Parking is available at Russell Investment Center Garage or the 3rd and Stewart Garage. Both honor the museum’s discount voucher for up to 4 hours of parking for $6. The Russell Investment Center Garage is ADA-accessible with and elevator which drops off visitors near the main entrance. the 3rd and Stewart Garage is 4 blocks away, and located on Stewart St. between 2nd and 3rd.

Upcoming Exhibits

The museum has three different upcoming exhibits. The first is Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre running September 15, 2015 through January 10, 2016. Morse is best known for inventing the telegraph and Morse code, but began his career as a painter. The museum will be showing his work “Gallery of the Louvre.” The second exhibit is Intimate Impressionism From the National Gallery of Art, which will be showing October 1, 2015 through January 10, 2016. This show includes 68 masterpieces from the best known artists of the age of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism eras in the art world. Some of the artist included in this show are Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and others. The final two exhibits will start in 2016 or 2017. The first is Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, running from February 11, 2016 through May 8, 2016. Wiley is an American artist, who is redefining the Aristocracy portrait paintings of the 18th century. His stylized painting style focuses on mainly young men of color.

Little Known Facts

A little known fact about SAM is that the museum is free on First Thursdays for everyone, and the museum remains open until 9 pm. For seniors, First Fridays are free. These two opportunities allow visitors to view SAM Collections and Installations. The museum wants to be available to everyone, so visitors can opt to pay a donation or what they are able to pay to enter the museum. These visitors can view the SAM Collections and Installations only.

Related: Best Family-Friendly Museum Exhibits In Seattle

Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at