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And what the Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion could look like, too…

(Images: LMN Architects)

(Images: LMN Architects)

As Volunteer Park’s 83-year-old museum prepares to undergo its first major upgrade, the Seattle Art Museum is seeking public input on the plans. Community outreach meetings are scheduled for September and October.

Preliminary designs for the Asian Art Museum call for adding at least 7,500-square-feet of new gallery and event space, as well as an education studio and art storage space. A terrace, seat wall, and rock garden are part of the plans for outdoor improvements to the backside of the museum.

In 2017, Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum to close for 18 months for $45M overhaul

SAM plans to close the museum in the spring of 2017 for about 18 months until work is complete. Plans from LMN Architects also call for replacing the heating and A/C systems, remodeling the bathrooms, accessibility upgrades, and seismic improvements.

The building’s Art Deco facade will remain in tact, but some exterior work will be part of the overhaul. The city’s Architectural Review Committee reviewed LMN’s plans for the landmarks protected building during its August 12th meeting.

Asian Art Museum Community Meetings

Saturday, 9/10
Community Outreach Gathering: Nagomi Tea House
519 6th Ave S, Ste 200, Seattle WA 98104

Saturday, 10/15
Community Outreach Gathering: Asian Art Museum
1400 E Prospect St, Seattle WA 98112

A SAM representative said more meetings are being planned for the fall and winter.

The planned addition has also stirred up some concern from neighbors who are worried about intrusions into park space. They say SAM has not been forthcoming about its plans and have started circulating a paper petition to oppose the expansion.

North Capitol Hill resident Jonathan Mark, who is helping to distribute the petition, outlined his opposition to the project in an email sent to neighbors: “This plan reduces critically needed open space and tree cover. The area is a lovely and well used part of the park, providing a quiet retreat away from the more social space formed by the triangle of the big lawn, conservatory, and water tower.”

The nonprofit Volunteer Park Trust also recently submitted a letter urging SAM to balance the needs of the park with those of the museum.

The $45 million project was initially slated to start in 2008 but was delayed due to the financial crisis and collapse of Washington Mutual, which resulted in a “substantial” loss of revenue for the museum. A 2014 agreement approved by the City Council reactivated $11 million of city funds for the project — funds first set aside as part of the 2008 parks levy.

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9 thoughts on “And what the Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion could look like, too…

  1. Since the downtown SAM holds the core collection, why not expand there–not in VP? Downtown has the centralized transit collections and parking required to support the visitor volume involved. Expanding within Vol Park will only increase conflicts within an already busy park–especially with the expansion/modernization of the amphitheatre.

  2. There is now an online version of the petition opposing the expansion of the museum into Volunteer Park. Anyone interested may sign the petition here:

    It reads:

    We oppose the taking of precious land in Volunteer Park for the proposed expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Our community’s dwindling open space is far too valuable to convert to buildings, a violation of public trust.

    • Thanks Jonathan, I signed the petition. Why hasn’t this project gone through the Design Commission? There has been a real lack of public process.

  3. I have been hearing about the upgrades for A/C, etc for years – but this and the Stranger article are the first time I’ve seen the information about expansion into park land.

    They are adding “event space” which I suppose means they can rent it for weddings, etc. Why should the city give up park land for that?

    • Right? I can’t think of any good reason the city should allow this.

      What’s odd is that the Volunteer Park Trust and the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks are also against this expansion into park space. So who is behind this? Some ambitious people at the Museum? Well good for them, but they should raise their own money and buy their own land to put up a space for events if they want this, not steal it from the Seattle citizens who have precious little space to relax in greenery.

      I think it is not mere oversight that there has not been more transparency here – someone is trying to pull a fast one to create a space that will be used by few for some events while depriving the many of green space.

      What a crock. I have it on good authority that this WILL go forward without community pushback, so please look at the Stranger article to get information about upcoming community meetings and attend.

  4. The museum is just right as it is. Keep the grass. More storage should go underground. The museum is secondary to the park . The Park comes first.
    It could be worse, They could bring back that foul dog run that ruined that space for everyone but the dogs.