Asian Art Museum is reopening in May! Find out more about visiting »

Revisiting Reopening the Asian Art Museum, At Last

One year ago, we welcomed you back to the renovated Asian Art Museum following a three-year closure while we reimagined and reinstalled SAM’s original home. Now, we are thrilled to invite you to another reopening in May 2021, following our year-long COVID closure to keep our community safe. The galleries have been waiting for you.

During the opening weekend in February 2020, 10,000 people visited the museum to experience the groundbreaking new thematic installation of SAM’s Asian art collection and share in creativity across cultures. It was moment to remember and we invite you to revisit the festivities in this video. Closing the museum just one month after this video was filmed was a sad moment and we know that many people did not get a chance to experience the expanded and enhanced Asian Art Museum. But soon, everyone will be able to!

The Asian Art Museum will reopen with limited capacity to members on May 7 and to the public on May 28. Friday, May 28 will be free and hours will be extended for Memorial Day weekend. Member tickets will be available starting April 15 and the public can get tickets starting April 29. The museum hours are 10 am–5 pm, Fridays–Sundays and admission is free on the last Friday of every month. When the museum reopens, the inaugural exhibitions will remain on view, including Boundless: Stories of Asian Art and Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art in the museum’s galleries and the installation Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn: Gather in the Fuller Garden Court. Learn more about what to know when you visit the Asian Art Museum.

Today’s Seattle Asian Art Museum is inspired. The Asian Art Museum breaks boundaries to offer a thematic, rather than geographic or chronological, exploration of art from the world’s largest continent. The restoration of the historic Art Deco building, improvements to critical systems, expanded gallery and education spaces, and a new park lobby that connects the museum to the surrounding Volunteer Park are just some of the ways the Asian Art Museum has been transformed and preserved as a cultural and community resource for future generations.

You will no longer find galleries labeled China, Japan, or India. Instead, vibrant artworks from Vietnam to Iran, and everywhere in between, come together to tell stories of human experiences across time and place. From themes of worship and celebration to clothing and identity, nature and power to birth and death, the new collection installation reveals the complexity and diversity of Asia—a place of distinct cultures, histories, and belief systems that help shape our world today.

Muse/News: Moments of Grace, Artists in Bridges, & A Hero Rat

SAM News

Fiona Ye of University of Washington’s The Daily interviews artist Barbara Earl Thomas on her upcoming exhibition at SAM, The Geography of Innocence, and talks about the intention behind her new portraits of Black children.

“Its intent is to bring us into contact with the destabilizing forces of our perceptions and biases that disrupt our innocence. It is to make us conscious of our interdependency and marvel at how individual actions can lead to changes that are transformative or disruptive. It is to situate us in a moment of grace.”

Priya Frank, SAM’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, is interviewed for Visit Seattle’s SEAforSHE series, which celebrates women leaders in Seattle.

Gather, the LED-light installation created by Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn that graces the renovated and reimagined Seattle Asian Art Museum, recently won an Architectural Lighting (AL) Design Award. While the Asian Art Museum remains closed, you can still engage with virtual programming like the upcoming series on color in Asian art.

Local News

Consider some merch with “a little sass”: Seattle Met’s Nicole Martinson recommends seven salty Seattle pieces, including Tariqa Water’s “NO” tote, available at SAM Shop.

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig sees what’s “currently hanging”: this time, it’s Untitled Anxious Men Drawings by Rashid Johnson, on view virtually from Hauser & Wirth.

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores introduces you to the artists making comics in Seattle’s historic drawbridges while living in residence.

“‘I’m really excited,’ Russian says, as cyclists speed by. ‘The University Bridge is a drawbridge, so it’s very dynamic, tons of people walk and run across the bridge every day, plus all the boats going by underneath —’ then a boat’s air horn interrupts them.”

Inter/National News

Alex Greenberger of ARTnews on a new retrospective of Imogen Cunningham and “why the proto-feminist photographer has grown so popular.” The exhibition heads to SAM next fall.

The American Alliance of Museums’ blog talks about children’s museology and the COVID-19 crisis, sharing how museums across the country are working to prioritize young people’s learning. SAM’s Teen Arts Group (TAG) is mentioned.

The New York Times’ Holland Cotter reviews the “stirring” new exhibition at MoMA PS1, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, curated by Nicole R. Fleetwood.

“It’s a society in which racism often determines presumption of guilt; in which imprisonment — human disempowerment and erasure — is chosen over righting the inequities that lead to prison. It’s a society in which caging people is big corporate business, with connections reaching everywhere, including the art world.”

And Finally

A medal for Magawa.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Grace, 2019, Barbara Earl Thomas, American, cut paper and hand-printed color, 26 x 40 in., Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery, photo: Spike Mafford.

Muse/News: We heart Asian art, holding down the fort, and a zoo-riffic museum visit

SAM News

The May/June issue of Hong-Kong based magazine Orientations is out, and the reimagined Asian Art Museum is the cover story. “Flip” through the digital edition to page 46 to read the essay by SAM curators Foong Ping and Xiaojin Wu, along with consulting curator Darielle Mason.

This week, Stay Home with SAM sends love letters to Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, explores the major-ness of Kehinde Wiley, and gathers under the light installation of Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn.

Teen Tix reviewers spend some time navigating the “well-written” and “brilliant” SAM Blog and share this review.

“The piece was captivating. This sentence put what I originally thought were just a couple whimsical cement radios into a bizarre and uncanny context, something that, without an entire article to accompany it, a run of the mill museum exhibit could not have done.”

Local News

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel talks with artist Monyee Chau, who created a poster to buoy up the Chinatown-International District in response to an increase of anti-Asian racism.

Seattle Met’s Steve Luikens has some great recommendations for “what to stream in Seattle this week,” including herstory lessons, dystopian film, and Samantha Irby.

Real Change’s Ashley Archibald on Totem Star, a recording studio and music workshop for youth, and how it’s continuing to mentor its young artists remotely.

“Opening the online platform has helped with the isolation of the lockdown, giving structure to a week when days blur together in a miasma of monotony. ‘It’s a consistent thing we look forward to in our days,’ Amina said. ‘It’s been hard, but they’ve been making it easier, for sure.’”

Inter/National News

23 mayors across the US—including Seattle’s Jenny Durkan—signed a joint letter to Congress urging the government to provide more aid to artists, arts workers, and cultural organizations in the next federal stimulus package, reports Artforum.

“Holding down the fort”: Artnet’s Sarah Cascone looks at the guards, groundskeepers, and collection managers still working on-site at closed museums.

The New York Times’ Thomas Rogers explores how some European museums are reopening and reinventing themselves during the pandemic.

“It has largely been up to the institutions to iron out the details, including whether to require masks. For museum directors, this involves balancing public safety against the desire to allow people to freely engage with art; for visitors, this means navigating a patchwork of new rules.”

And Finally

“They seemed to react much better to Caravaggio than Monet.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade

Virtual Art Talks: Gather with Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn

The next time you are able to visit the Asian Art Museum you will be greeted by a new light installation. Gather by Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn was commissioned to celebrate the legacy of Asian artists working over generations and all over the world. Hear from Kenzan in this artist talk and look forward to gathering under this site-specific installation.

The renovation and expansion of the Asian Art Museum allowed SAM curators to rethink how the artwork would be presented. Previously organized by regions with Japan in one wing, China in the other, and South Asia in the Garden Court, we were limited in the selection of works on view. Now, with more space and the thematic reinstallation, we are able to represent more of our renowned collection from all over Asia. This also created space in the Garden Court to present this new installation.

Learn more about SAM’s history and the Tsutakawa family! Check out this article in the South Seattle Emerald about Gather written by Kenzan’s mother, Mayumi Tsutakawa. You can find out more about Kenzan’s grandfather, George Tsutakawa in this SAM Blog article contributed by the Tsutakawa family and see his work on view at our downtown location when we are able to reopen in Exceptionally Ordinary: Mingei 1920–2020.

We are humbled by the generosity of our donors during this unique time. Your financial support powers SAM Blog and also sustains us until we can come together as a community and enjoy art in the galleries again. Thanks to a generous group of SAM trustees, all membership and gifts to SAM Fund will be matched up to $500,000 through June 30!

Muse/News: Kismet at the Asian Art Museum, big stone hands, and bro-ramics

SAM News

The Seattle Asian Art Museum is now reopened, and we are still excited. Jennifer S. Li wrote about the “fresh and relevant” museum for ArtAsiaPacific.

“[The curators] orchestrated moments of kismet, discovery, and wonder, with space for visitors’ personal revelations as they interacted with the reinstallation.”

Eve M. Kahn has a lively and thorough look for Apollo Magazine of the reimagined museum.

And given Seattle’s complicated history of changing attitudes toward immigrants and visitors from the rest of the Pacific Rim, Foong [Ping, curator of Asian art] notes, ‘It’s very meaningful to have an Asian art museum in this city.’”

This week’s edition of Real Change features the Asian Art Museum, with this story from Kelly Knickerbocker.

“With the renovated building came an opportunity to start completely from scratch,” Foong said. “People kept asking, ‘Did you just go on holiday when the museum closed?’ It’s quite the opposite.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig often takes a look at what’s “Currently Hanging”; here she is on Faig Ahmed’s Oiling, which is now on view in Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art.

Mayumi Tsutakawa wrote for the South Seattle Emerald about Gather, the Garden Court’s new LED-light installation, which was created by her son, Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn.

Local News

“Do Sh*t Alone,” says the Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig, recommending the joys of seeing art, movies, and music solo.

The Seattle Times’ Crystal Paul reviews Excluded, Inside the Lines, the Wing Luke’s exhibition on redlining and housing discrimination in Seattle that closes February 23.

Katie Kurtz interviews artist Dan Webb about his massive foray into stonework; his granite hands will soon grace Sound Transit’s Redmond Technology Station. Very cool visuals by Matt M. McKnight, too!

“They are my hands for a reason. Moving your boulder is a very personal subject and everybody’s got a boulder to move. It’s very literal,” Webb says.

Inter/National News

A look back for the #BongHive: Here’s Gary Indiana for Artforum in 2007, reflecting on the “Gogol in Seoul” sensibilities of director Bong Joon-ho.

The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris reports on repercussions from the coronavirus hitting the art world.

Artnet’s Katie White from the frontlines of “bro-ramics”; apparently, Hollywood dudes are really into making ceramics? Of course, it’s a medium that has been dominated by women for centuries.  

“The popularity may wax and wane, but I don’t think we’ll return to anything like the material biases that existed in the late 20th century…and Seth Rogen will turn to underwater basket-weaving, eventually.”

And Finally

Cristofano Allori’s “breakup song” version of the oft-painted Judith and Holofernes.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Jueqian Fang