Global collections, powerful exhibitions, and dynamic programs
SAM is one museum with three locations: the Seattle Art Museum in downtown, the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. As the leading visual art institution in the Pacific Northwest, SAM draws on its global collections, powerful exhibitions, and dynamic programs to provide unique educational resources benefiting the Seattle region, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. SAM was founded in 1933 with a focus on Asian art, but quickly grew to become the major general museum in the Pacific Northwest. By the late 1980s the museum had outgrown its original Art Deco building in Volunteer Park, and in 1991 a new 155,000-square-foot downtown building, designed by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, opened to the public.
In the heart of downtown Seattle, light-filled galleries invite you to wander through our collections, temporary installations, and special exhibitions from around the world. Our collections include Asian, African, American, Ancient Mediterranean, Islamic, European, Oceanic, Australian Aboriginal, modern and contemporary art, and decorative arts. Visitors especially enjoy our remarkable Native American galleries, the Porcelain Room, and our exceptional galleries devoted to Australian Aboriginal art, the first in the US.
The Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park opened as the original museum facility in 1933. In 1994, after a new museum building opened in downtown Seattle, this facility reopened as the museum’s center for Asian art and cultural activities, exhibiting Japanese, Chinese, Korean, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Middle Eastern art, including contemporary Asian art. The museum’s holdings rank in the top 10 outside of Asia, and its Japanese collection is one of the top five in the United States.
The Olympic Sculpture Park, which opened in 2007, transformed downtown Seattle’s largest undeveloped waterfront property from a former industrial site into an open and vibrant green space for art. As the Seattle Art Museum’s third venue, this park gives Seattle residents and visitors the opportunity to experience a variety of sculpture in an outdoor setting, while enjoying the incredible views and beauty of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. The Olympic Sculpture Park celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017.