5 Tips for Enjoying First Thursday in Seattle

Yesterday I was waiting in a long line and struck up a conversation with the woman in front of me. I mentioned that I worked at SAM and encouraged her to come to the museum for First Thursday.

She looked at me blankly and said, “What’s First Thursday?”

It was a good reminder that not everyone lives in the arts bubble. It was also a great opportunity to tell my new friend about this fun monthly event.

I explained that on the first Thursday of every month, museums across Seattle offer free admission. Additionally, in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, galleries open their doors to introduce their new exhibitions and artists. (Fun fact: First Thursday in Pioneer Square was the first organized art walk in the United States and started in 1981.)

I love the energy in downtown Seattle during First Thursday. It’s a fantastic time to people watch, meet new folks and of course–experience art.

Here are some First Thursday tips that are useful for newbies and veterans alike.

1. Go early…or arrive fashionably late
Admission is free at participating museums all day. This means that you can visit SAM or the Seattle Asian Art Museum right when they open at 10 am or you can drop in during your lunch break. During the evening, museums can get really crowded on First Thursday. Come to the museum during the day, when it will be considerably less busy.

If that doesn’t work for your schedule, consider visiting the museum or gallery of your choice one or two hours before it closes. SAM and the Seattle Asian Art Museum are open until 9 pm on First Thursday (and actually every Thursday).

2. Try something new
First Thursday is the perfect time to visit places that you’ve never been to or to view art that you may not normally consider. If you’re already familiar with SAM’s European Art Collection, for example, maybe peruse the galleries of Ancient Mediterranean and Islamic Art. Or spend some time getting to know the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park.

3. Bring your friends and family
First Thursday is one of the rare times you’ll see large numbers of Seattleites being extremely social. Use First Thursday as an excuse to go on a date with your partner, expose your kids to something that doesn’t involve licensed characters, or catch up with your mom or grandpop.

4. Walk, bus, bike or cab
Parking can be especially challenging on First Thursday so bypass that problem altogether and take alternative transportation. We just updated our website with biking directions and bus recommendations. Check it out! 

5. Come back!
Admission at the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum is always suggested, which means that it is pay-what-you-can. Please come see us again, and pay $1, $5–whatever you can afford.