Seattle as Collector Opens at SAM

I had the pleasure of attending the opening for the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs Seattle as Collector exhibition here at SAM last night. The exhibition is part of the celebration of the Office’s 40th Anniversary, and the show includes over 110 pieces from the city’s 2,800 piece collection. The city’s collection, garnered through the 1% for art program, is really pretty extraordinary. I had been looking forward to seeing the installation, but when I actually walked through it, I was really struck by the artists included. We’re talking Chuck Close, Jacob Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, Alden Mason…big names. And there were a bunch of artists that I recognized because of exhibitions and projects I’ve worked on at SAM over the last few years.  Read More

Important News about SAM

I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign as Director of the Seattle Art Museum effective June 30th. This was a difficult decision for me but with SAM today in a much stronger position than when I arrived, I believe the time is right for a change in leadership.

When the fiscal year ends on June 30th, we will post what might well be the most successful year in SAM’s 78-year history:

  • More visitors than ever to Downtown SAM (projected to be nearly 600,000)
  • Membership at an all time high (more than 48,000 household members)
  • Increased levels of community engagement
  • Picasso exhibition which had region-wide impact
  • Stabilization of our financial situation and real estate dilemma

I am proud that SAM has achieved so much and I am confident that the institution will continue to build on this success.

I am eager for a break and for the chance to undertake my own projects. First, I aim to spend more time with my family and refresh my professional perspective.  My passion for art history has been on hold while I focused on the most urgent administrative and financial challenges here.  Now, I want to re-establish my personal connection with the artists, objects, and ideas that got me into museum work in the first place.  My family and I have fallen in love with Seattle and we expect to remain here, so I hope to see you often.

Please know that I am grateful for having had this opportunity to serve the Seattle Art Museum and this community.


Derrick R. Cartwright

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director

Free Admission and Activities at SAM Downtown and Seattle Asian Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum is a new partner of Museums On Us, Bank of America’s nationwide program that provides greater access to museums, zoos, science centers and other cultural institutions. SAM is one of 153 participants who offer free admission to Bank of America cardholders on the first full weekend of every month. Get free admission to SAM Downtown May 7 and May 8 just by presenting your Bank of America debit or credit card.

Speaking of banks, Wells Fargo is presenting Free First Saturday at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Bring your family and try your hand at making drawings with bamboo and ink 11 am-2 pm. There will also be a free showing of the Japanese animated film “Pom Poko” at 1:30 pm.

On Sunday, bring your mom, grandma, nana, bubbe, abuela, stepmom, mother-in-law, baby’s mama, etc. to SAM and the Seattle Asian Art Museum on Sunday. Moms get in free!

For more details, visit our calendar or Events on our Facebook page.

There Goes the Neighborhood

The businesses on First Avenue that we’re happy to call our neighbors are getting in the spirit for March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out on May 5. Be sure to visit them and thank them for their support!

  • BOKA at Hotel 1000 will be handing out bags of gourmet, house-made salted caramel kettle corn.
  • Mary Elizabeth and Cindi at Goldmine Design are decorating their windows Nick Cave-style and are hosting an open studio event.
  • JoJo at Pala Pala Dress Boutique will be handing out coupons during the parade and is generously donating items for the Community Night Out scavenger hunt.
  • At sandylew, they will be handing out maracas made of upcycled plastic water bottles.
  • Watson Kennedy will be extending their hours and will also be donating items for the Community Night Out scavenger hunt.
  • Fran’s Chocolates is donating three $15 gift cards to use as scavenger hunt prizes.
  • Ancient Grounds and The Alexis Hotel are spreading the word about Community Night Out to their customers.
Photo courtesy of Goldmine Design

Make Your Own Flag for March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out

I can’t wait to see the wearable art that people are creating for March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out on May 5. The evening will kick off with a fantastic parade that starts at the Hammering Man at 5:30 p.m.

If you want a quick and easy way to make something special for Community Night Out, click here now to download instructions and pattern for a DIY flag.

Or come to SAM’s Chase Open Studio at 4:30 p.m. (an hour before the parade begins) to whip up some wearable art of your own. It’s free!

Make Wearable Art at SAM’s Chase Open Studio

Of course you’re coming to March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out on May 5.

The question is: Are you prepared to look FABULOUS?

This evening stop by the Chase Open Studio 5:45-8:45 pm to create your wearable art for Community Night Out. We have TONS of things that would give your look some F-L-A-R-E including fabric, sequins, feathers and more.

If you can’t make it tonight, the Open Studio will be available at 4:30 pm on May 5 an hour before the March to the Center of the Earth parade begins.

For inspiration, check out these photos from a recent SAM Creates workshop with artist Mandy Greer.

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Picasso Exhibition Generated $66 million Economic Impact in Washington State

The recent exhibition, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, generated an estimated $66 million in economic impact for Washington State, of which $58 million was generated in King County, according to an economic impact study commissioned by SAM.

The study, prepared by University of Washington professor William B. Beyers, clearly demonstrates that a major arts event can stimulate the economy in multiple ways. The critically acclaimed exhibition was on view October 8, 2010 -January 17, 2011, and ranks as the most highly attended show in the history of SAM Downtown, attracting 405,000 visitors including nearly 20,000 school children and boosting the museum’s membership to an all time high of more than 48,000 households.

Get more details:

SAM’s Mobile Engagement Strategies for Picasso Get Positive Review

Jay Holcomb from local mobile marketing agency Knovolo discusses how SAM incorporated mobile into the Picasso exhibition experience with Microsoft Tag and a mobile website. Read his entire review at

Did you use your mobile phone to access information about the Picasso exhibition? If so, what did you think? Do you want SAM to create more ways to interact with the museum using your phone?

Want to Win Remix Tickets? Bring Your Social Network to SAM on May 5!

The SAM special exhibition Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth has arrived in Seattle in a very big way. Have you been dazzled by how Cave transforms ordinary objects into extraordinary art (or want to be)? Well, come to SAM Downtown on May 5 from 5:30 – 9 pm for a terrific celebration: March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out.

Bring your students, friends, parents, kids, neighbors, fellow artists and crafters—there will be something there for everyone! Plus, you could win these fabulous prizes:

  • 2 tickets to the June 3 SAM Remix
  • 4 tickets to the Nick Cave exhibition
  • 1 gift bag from the pop-up SoundSuitShop at SAM

How to enter:

  • Get a group of 5 (or more) people together and attend March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out on May 5.
  • Take a photo of your group at the event.
  • Post the photo on SAM’s Facebook wall, and be sure to tag everyone in the picture.

All photo entries are due May 9 by 5 pm.

Videos from Family Festival: Earth Day for Kids at Olympic Sculpture Park

Family Festival: Earth Day for Kids was an amazing day of activities in celebration of Earth Day at the Olympic Sculpture Park!  Everyone enjoyed making green art and fantastic live performances celebrating sustainability. Plus, dancers from Cornish College of the Arts brought Nick Cave’s Soundsuits to life! Thanks again to Target for making this event–and other family-friendly events that are focused on art–possible! Here are two fun videos from the event.

Join SAM May 5 for March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out

Create it, and parade it! Get your masquerade on during SAM’s special evening celebration, March to the Center of the Earth: Community Night Out. Bring a crafty costume or come early to SAM and create your own wearable art in the Chase Open Studio.

Community Night Out kicks off with a 5:30 pm procession that starts at Hammering Man at SAM Downtown, winds down 1st Avenue and returns to the museum for a night of free live performances, drop-in art making, tours and an onsite Soundsuit performance. That night is First Thursday so admission to SAM and the Nick Cave exhibition is FREE.

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Patti Junker Receives Frost Essay Award

We are very excited to congratulate Patti Junker, the Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art at SAM, on receiving the prestigious Frost Essay Award from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Click here to read her essay.

Here is the Smithsonian’s offical announcement about the award:

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded the 2010 Patricia and Phillip Frost Essay Award to Patricia Junker, the Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art at the Seattle Art Museum. Her article, “Childe Hassam, Marsden Hartley, and the Spirit of 1916,” appeared in the fall 2010 issue (vol. 24, no. 3). The article presents a close contextual study and comparative analysis of Hassam’s production of impressionist paintings of American flags with an exhibition of Hartley’s abstractions of German military motifs at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery 291 in the spring of 1916 when American sentiment about World War I had reached a fever pitch.

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Hi! I’m New Here.

My name is Madeline Moy, and I just started working at SAM. I’m the digital media manager for the museum, which means I’ll be overseeing strategy and content for our website and social media.

I grew up on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Seattle was just an hour away by ferry, but it truly was another world to me. I first visited SAM many years ago when I was in high school–not because I was interested in art, but because I was interested in a boy who was interested in art.

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SAM Art Comes to SOAP!

Each week for the past two years we have shared one work out of the nearly 25,000 in our collection on Facebook, in a feature called “SAMart.” Starting this week, SAMart comes to SOAP! Check back each week or subscribe to our RSS to learn more about new acquisitions and old favorites in the SAM collection.

Opening on April 30, Modern Elegance: The Art of Meiji Japan features paintings and decorative objects exemplifying the essence of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japanese art.
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Report from Japan from Our Assistant Curator of Asian Art

This month, I traveled to Japan on a study tour for American curators of Japanese and contemporary art. Sponsored by the Japan Foundation, the two-week adventure took us on a whirlwind tour of museums in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Osaka, and Naoshima. The objective of the trip was to introduce a wide range of U.S. art professionals to Japanese museum practices and to foster a cross-cultural dialogue between specialists. The trip accomplished this goal, without a doubt, but it will be the events of March 11 and beyond that will prove most memorable.

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SAM is Back!

I am eager to welcome you back to SAM after the recent, short furlough. While this was a difficult measure to undertake, it did achieve its goal of significantly reducing expenses associated with this year’s budget. My colleagues and I returned to the museum this week after a two week break, energized and ready for the year ahead.  I thank you again for your support and understanding during our absence.

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Running for Soup

Wondering what the SAM staff are up to over our furlough (more info on that here)? Some of us are getting out of town, some of us are staying home and catching up on sleep, and at least one individual is in training. Our Senior Accountant, Richard Heine, is running the Paris Marathon on April 10. Did I mention this is the first marathon he’s ever run? So while we normally encourage hours of browsing in the Louvre instead of passing it by at a 10 mph clip, in this case, we’re all behind him. 

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Reflections on Picasso

Two Chief Sealth International High School students write in response to the Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, November 2010. Photo: Catherine Anstett.

Wallace Stevens published his poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird in 1917, around seven years after Pablo Picasso painted the cubist landscape Sacre-Coure. In the poem and the painting, these two artists explore one object (a blackbird and a Parisian church, respectively) through multiple perspectives. Jumping forward to November 2010, students from Chief Sealth International High School were introduced to both works during a visit to SAM Downtown and asked to add a layer of their own perspectives in a creative writing exercise led by teaching writers Cambray Provo and Jeanine Walker.

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Up Next at SAM!

We are gearing up for our next show Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth which opens March 10.  Check out this video to learn more about Nick’s work.  You are in for a fantastical treat.

PICASSO online ticketing experiencing temporary “Blue Period”

We are so thrilled with the enthusiastic response to Picasso, but unfortunately our online ticketing system is not.  Due to the unprecedented demand this week we are experiencing system delays so please bear with us as we resolve the issue as quickly as possible.  Please note: We are very busy this week due to the holidays and tickets are limited.

Though you can always buy tickets on-site at all three of our locations: SAM Downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park, be aware that due the high volume of ticket sales we are averaging about a 4 to 5 hour wait for the next available timeslot to see Picasso.

Our best advice is to visit in the evenings or on a weekday during the first two weeks of January. We are open unprecedented extended hours- every evening until 9 p.m. with a few exceptions.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime show before it closes on January 17! For more details on how best to plan your visit go to