Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park will reopen to the general public on Friday, May 28, with tickets going on sale April 29. The museum reopens to SAM members on Friday, May 7; they will be able to reserve their timed spots beginning April 15.
Similar to the downtown museum, the Asian Art Museum will be at a limited capacity and open Fridays through Sundays, 10 am–5 pm. Timed tickets will be sold online only, and released on a rolling basis every Thursday.
For the first opening weekend to the public, the museum will be open Friday through Monday, which includes the Memorial Day holiday. In addition, tickets for Friday, May 28 will be free to all, and the Asian Art Museum will continue to offer free admission on the last Friday of each month.
The Asian Art Museum, which dates from 1933, was closed for major renovation for three years, from February 2017 to February 2020. It briefly reopened, Feb. 8-Mar. 12, 2020, only to close again owing to the pandemic.
What will make visiting the newly reopened museum worthwhile is the opportunity to see its “groundbreaking thematic presentation of its Asian art collection,” as well as new spaces for art, education, and conservation. To expand on the former concept, until remodeling, the museum’s collection of Asian art had been divided by country. Such conventional displays fail to reflect the art’s dynamism over time, for the art flowed across borders as it moved with trade, as well as under its own power. Thus, Buddhism statuary spread from India, kanji from China, and the like, each artform evolving as new artisans made it their own.
The 12 themes that guide the current displays include worship and celebration, visual arts and literature, and clothing and identity.
In addition to the modernized permanent exhibits, there are two new ones. These are “Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art” from 12 artists across Asia, and Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn’s “Gather.” The latter is ceiling LED art, based on a “tic-tac-toe” cross-pattern found in both “ikat” (Indonesian) and sashiko (Japanese embroidery) textiles.
In summary, while visiting Asia remains an activity best postponed for the future, Asia-starved readers can start feeding their wanderlust with a short journey to the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Afterward, a visit to nearby Rondo or Momiji would prolong the ambience (right).
Seattle Asian Art Museum
Friday–Saturday: 10 am–5 pm
Seniors (65+): $12.99
Students (with ID): $9.99
Children 14 & under: Free