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.
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
Community Outreach Gathering: Nagomi Tea House
519 6th Ave S, Ste 200, Seattle WA 98104
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.