Seattle Art Museum demands repeat visits

The Seattle Art Museum – So much art. So little time.

Though the Seattle Art Museum is open so many hours each day, this grand downtown Seattle masterpiece building still won’t allow you to see all there is to see inside in just one day.

And that’s just fine. Just make sure you’ll be returning. Over and over again.

The museum hosts so many new shows and exhibits, and there’s a good chance that each time you return, you’ll discover something new, something that has been improved or upgraded.

And of course, the impressive light all through the building. Oh yes, the light. The building is famous for its light that gently spreads out, through and over each of the museum’s floors like gossamer. It is like the light in the museum is “bringing things to life.”

In January 2006, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) closed to allow for a huge expansion.  This was needed to make room for the growing exhibition programs and collections of the museum. So just one block south of Pike Place Market, at the museum’s original location, a brand-new 16-story building was connected to the existing museum that also underwent a complete renovation.

The project cost over $86 million in total and doubled the gallery and public space. The huge expansion was including amenities such as a new restaurant and museum shop, galleries with white oak plank floors, terrazzo floors in all of the museum’s public spaces, and, on the 3rd floor, an impressive gallery dedicated to contemporary art.

The museum now can handle powerful and big-size pieces such as “Some/One” (created by Do-Ho Suh), a stainless steel sort of military kimono that’s entirely made of nickel-plated copper sheets. And on the second floor, you can find the “Brotman Forum”, a 5,000-square-foot public space where changing installations are featured. To give you an idea of the size, one of the first installations featured was a suspended Ford Taurus automobiles collection with light tubes that seemed to explode from within the cars. A really cool night-time exhibition by Cai Guo-Qiang with the title “Inopportune: Stage One.”

Some other must-see museum exhibits included a late-16th century northern Italian wood-paneled room that was publicly available for the first time ever in the United States. There’s also the Porcelain Room, a gigantic china cabinet-like room where you can marvel at over 1,000 Asian and European porcelains. All elements were categorized by design and color into a wonderfully mesmerizing and beautiful arrangement.

For the impressive reopening, the museum featured a special exhibition (“SAM at 75”) that displayed 200 of the over one thousand gifts and acquisitions that were showcased in the collection in honor of the 2008 75th anniversary of SAM.

One more opening day exhibit was “5 Masterpieces of Asian Art – the Story of their Conservation.” This exhibit featured works like “Poem Scroll with Deer” which was done on thin rice paper, and is a fine illustration of impressive conservation techniques related to reserving rare art. There was also an important exhibition to celebrate the works and life of Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence. The show highlighted their impressive artistry during their Seattle period. For Diwali events, check out this post.

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