Muse/News: New Angles, South End Energies, and Pantone’s 2021

SAM News

All SAM locations are currently closed until further notice, but you can still take a walk outside. Here’s Colleen Stinchcombe for the Seattle Times recommending a visit to Western Washington’s many outdoor spaces with sculptures, including SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

“If you’ve walked through before, challenge yourself to find new angles on the statues: underneath, behind, up close. How does the park look on a rainy day, or if we manage to get a dusting of snow this year?”

The renovation and expansion of SAM’s Asian Art Museum by LMN Architects makes architecture site Dezeen’s list of top 10 US architecture projects of 2020. We are working towards reopening (again!) the reimagined museum in early spring 2021.

Local News

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig takes a virtual tour of once-delayed-now-open exhibition Artemisia at the National Gallery in London; she says it’s worth the price of admission, although “when her Judith and Holofernes painting came through Seattle last year at the Seattle Art Museum, sidling up to the gruesome work felt holy.”

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on Yakima-based artist and teacher Christie Tirado, whose recent series at Davidson Galleries, America’s Essential Workers, features “linoleum block relief prints [that] honor the people who harvest the produce many of us buy without much thought as to its origins.”

Beverly Aarons for the South Seattle Emerald on the effort to establish a state-certified “creative district” for Seattle’s South End, led by Afua Kouyate, executive director of ADEFUA Cultural Education Workshop.

“It’s about breathing energies into South Seattle,” Kouyate said. “I had so much dialogue with people [who were] like, ‘Oh, well we already have a business district in South Seattle. Oh, we already have our merchants association. We already—’ Yeah, but everybody is comfortably segregated. Nobody’s really doing things together.”

Inter/National News

Artnet has the sad headline: “A Single US Republican Senator Has Blocked the Approval of New Museums Dedicated to Women’s History and the American Latino.”

Alexandra M. Thomas of Hyperallergic has a play-by-play of a recent online teach-in organized by La Tanya S. Autry that addresses “the limits and possibilities of the arts to address anti-Blackness.” Catch up and find out what’s next for Autry’s Black Liberation Center.

The New York Times’ style writer Vanessa Friedman on Pantone’s announcement of the color of the year. Spoiler alert: for the second time, two colors have been named.

“News of the coronavirus vaccine has reinforced Pantone’s selection. Even in the gray sameness of our current days, the future does look a whole lot brighter. Illuminated, even.”

And Finally

ICYMI: Reflect on what the water holds.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

Seattle Asian Art Museum: A Storied Past Inspires a Bright Future

“Renovating a museum that is an architectural icon is no small task,” explains Sam Miller, Partner at LMN Architects, the firm overseeing the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s renovation and expansion design. Preservation of the landmark building is essential, but modern demands necessitate change. These changes include improved ADA accessibility, seismic and climate control upgrades, and other electrical/mechanical controls imperative to present-day museum standards. The renovation features a modest expansion that adds exhibition and educational space, allowing the museum to better serve the community.

The Art Deco building is considered one of architect Carl F. Gould’s greatest achievements. “Our goal has been to impact the existing spaces as minimally as possible,” Miller says of LMN’s approach to the renovation process. “When there’s any new intervention that’s not replicating or preserving the historic architecture, we’re distinguishing the work with a more contemporary detailing so it’s clearly different from the building’s historic fabric.”

Gould’s original design serves as inspiration to LMN’s renovation plan, as does historic Volunteer Park, designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm in 1903. “There is this beautiful building in a beautiful historic park, and yet the two weren’t connected. We felt restoring some of that connection would be a great opportunity,” Miller says.

He explained how Gould’s design incorporated skylights that flooded the galleries with light, as well as windows with views into Volunteer Park. However, later building additions and a transition towards artificial lighting closed off many of those elements. The renovations will include LED light boxes that allow display of light-sensitive objects in an environment inspired by the original skylights. LMN also designed a glass lobby addition that improves building circulation while also providing park views. Conceived by Gould as an indoor-outdoor space, the Fuller Garden Court will also offer those views, through two new openings that will connect it to the lobby. “As you stand in the Garden Court, you’re going to have this incredible view of the park,” Miller says.

The community was integral to the design process. SAM received feedback from the City, local parks groups, and other community members. In addition to suggesting changes to a building staircase and landscaping that were incorporated into the final design, the community also led the museum back to an important source of inspiration—the Olmsted Brothers’ historic design for Volunteer Park pathways. In response to this feedback, SAM is restoring a set of Olmsted-designed paths. This opportunity to complete and augment these walkways through Volunteer Park speaks to the nature of the restoration project: historic preservation that has led to design inspiration.

In the months ahead, we will continue exploring the future of the museum as the renovations progress towards the much-anticipated re-opening in 2019.

– Erin Langner, freelance writer

Images: Eduardo Calderón.