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Seattle Asian Art Museum preps for renovation

Off the Walls: After Dark

The often-contentious renovation of Seattle Asian Art Museum, which has been closed since February, is about to kick into high gear. The art is off the walls and the museum is empty. Before construction begins, the museum will host a final community celebration called “Off the Walls” this weekend, September 15-16, where local artists will create installations and conduct some family-friendly art-making projects.
There will be taiko demonstrations, a lion dance and a performance by the Massive Monkeys dance team. There will be a photo booth around one of the museum’s stone camels and SAM’s mascot Sammy the Camel will be on hand to greet children. The activities are free and will be held from 10 to 2.
The renovation is expected to keep the museum closed until 2019. The museum was built in 1933 and was in need of upgrades to its climate-control system, a must for art museums featuring borrowed collections. Several walls were made of hollowed clay and need seismic upgrades. LMN Architects is handling the renovation.
The contentious portion of the renovation is a three-story addition that will take up 3,600-sq.-feet of land in Volunteer Park, a chunk of land some neighbors think is too big. Protect Volunteer Park is the main organization opposing the addition.
“Seattle voters approved $9 million in the 2008 Parks Levy to renovate the Gould Building for seismic safety and air conditioning,” the organization writes on its website. “We did not vote to give up precious parkland to make the building larger.”