SAM Reveals Asian Art Museum Renovation and Expansion Plans

The Seattle Art Museum presented its initial renderings for the renovation and expansion of the Asian Art Museum. Work is set to begin in 2017. This will be the first substantial renovation since it opened in 1933. The renovation will preserve the buildings Art Deco style while also providing modernized updates to the structure.

The Asian Art Museum, located in Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill, is in the building that was SAM’s original home. When SAM moved to its current home in downtown Seattle, the building changed its focus to a collection of Asian art and culture, featuring Japanese, Chinese, Himalayan, Southeast Asian, Korean, and Indian art.

The renovation of the building will be funded by both public and private funds. The budget is roughly $49 million, but that could change as plans for the project are finalized. The project received gifts from King County and the City of Seattle, but the majority is coming from a private fundraising effort. The campaign for donors is ongoing.

“This renovation and expansion project is crucial for the future of the Asian Art Museum,” said Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom director and CEO, in a press release. “The museum’s exhibitions and programming connects to the many cultural traditions and contemporary issues of Asia, helping us better understand our region and our rapidly evolving world; our goal is to ensure that we can continue to serve our community and visitors for years to come.”

Community meetings have been held to discuss the project with more meetings coming up on Oct. 15, Nov. 19, and Dec. 10. All meetings will be held at the Asian Art Museum.

The expansion and renovation will meet three needs of the museum: expand the education and programming space, establish a better connection to Volunteer Park, and modernize and preserve the building.

The time is right for restoration. According to SAM, the museum has seen its highest number of visitors in recent years. The building joined the National Register of Historic Places in July 2016. The surrounding Volunteer Park joined the register in 1976.

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