'Some/One', a large-scale 2001 work by Korean-born artist Do Ho Suh constructed primarily out of military dog tags, dominates the contemporary Asian art exhibit titled 'Be/longing'. Photo by Chase D. Anderson.

Seattle’s Asian Art Museum Opens Up Again This Week. Here’s an Early Look.

The newly imagined Seattle Asian Art Museum, at the center of Capitol Hill’s bustling-but-serene Volunteer Park, reopens after three years of large-scale renovations. 

The museum holds its grand opening party this weekend and opens for regular business next week. We caught an early glimpse this week before the crowds descended.

 

All photos by Chase D. Anderson for NWTheatre. 

 

Boundless — Beauty in Contrasts

The museum’s footprint is huge, and its vast stature in the park, along with its dark interior, has always struck me as rather foreboding. That it’s been closed off the past three years more or less cemented that view.

My, how the insides have changed. The facade remains ominous; there’s not much to change that. But inside is a (generally approachable) bounty of art that’s gorgeous in contrasts: ancient to modern, sacred to whimsical, bursts of color against the more subdued; displayed through mazelike rooms, with severe angles that blend out into treescape.

And while each frame is a study in contrasts, it somehow all flows together. Boundless — an exhibition title meant to describe the vastness of Asia’s geography and art forms — is an apt descriptor for the rest of the space as well.

 

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Belonging

Any time I’m at an exhibition — usually a large-scale one, like a whole museum, but it could be a tiny gallery too — I have to find “my room.” It might be an actual room, a corner, or even a single piece of art, that serves as my anchor in the place.

At SAAM, that space was immediately obvious: a large room near the back, close to the giant park-facing windows, boasting a contemporary exhibit called (fittingly) Be/longing. From a stunning, larger-than-life gown that changes form and function upon closer inspection, to a grandma living her best life, the room bursts with both color and contemplation.

 

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Verdict: The newly reimagined museum is recommended viewing for all.

Find out more about the large-scale renovations here. If impetus from events is more your style, find a list of upcoming programs here.


Seattle Asian Art Museum, located in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill, opens for regular business on February 12. Tickets are $15; info here. Accessibility notes: restrooms are gender-neutral and multi-stall; museum and common areas are wheelchair accessible; view accessibility info here. Financial accessibility: admission on first and second Thursdays and first Saturdays of the month are free; and tickets purchased on-site are suggested admission (all days).

Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.