Seattle Asian Art Museum set to reopen to public after 3-year renovation

May 24, 2021, 12:38 PM
The Seattle Asian Art Museum. (Rootology, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)...
The Seattle Asian Art Museum. (Rootology, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
(Rootology, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

As Seattle slowly starts to open up as COVID-19 cases decline and vaccinations increase, places like the Seattle Art Museum have started to reopen their exhibits, and that includes the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park.

Take a piece, leave a piece at Seattle’s first Little Free Art Gallery

The Seattle Asian Art Museum has undergone a transformation after being closed for three years.

“We’re very, very excited that we’re going to be reopening the Seattle Asian Art Museum,” said Amada Cruz, director and CEO of the Seattle Art Museum. “So for those of you who have never been there, you’re in for a treat because the Asian Art Museum is an historic building from 1933, it’s a sort of quintessential art deco gem in the middle of this beautiful park.”

“And when you walk in, you’re going to see a world class collection of art and artifacts from all over Asia,” Cruz continued. “The museum underwent a three-year renovation, so it is looking particularly spiffy, and clean, and there’s lots of natural light. And there’s a really wonderful relationship between the park and the building and the artworks now, so it’s really a gem.”

There’s now a glass area in the back of the building where museum visitors can look out over the park. For those in the park, Cruz says they can look up inside and “see this beautiful buddha, which is sort of glowing and floating above you.”

The Seattle Art Museum, Cruz explained, actually started as a collection of Asian art from a Dr. Fuller and his wife. They were the main donors of the collection and of the building itself.

“They actually funded the building,” Cruz said. “So this goes back to the 30s. That is really the heart and soul of the Seattle Art Museum, but it needed some renovations after being around from the 30s. And so what’s really interesting about the renovations is you don’t actually see a lot of what happened during those three years because essentially what you have is a 21st century infrastructure hidden behind a 1933 art deco beautiful gem. Unfortunately, we can’t peel back the walls and show you all the wonderful structural enhancements that we made.”

Who was ‘Burke’ of the Burke Museum?

The art at the Seattle Asian Art Museum is now arranged around 12 themes central to Asia’s arts and societies, rather than by country or location.

“They’re themes that we all share actually I guess an interest in — worship, celebration, birth, death. It’s actually so interesting because you start making connections between all these disparate works of art and all these different eras and visual codes,” Cruz said. “A little bit of a risk perhaps when we first opened up, but it has gotten rave reviews and people find it quite refreshing.”

Cruz sees the reopening of this museum as especially timely.

“To have a specific building in a specific place that celebrates the arts and culture and societies of all of Asia is very, very important. Also, specifically, I think on the West Coast and in Seattle because we have this deep connection with Asia and the Pacific Rim where we are, but also celebrating that culture is becoming is so important with the changing demographics here,” Cruz said. “But also at this historic moment when we’ve seen some pretty harrowing instances of violence against Asian and Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. From my point of view to, at this particular moment, be able to reopen this museum and celebrate all these cultures is enormously important as well.”

The Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens to the public on May 28. You can get tickets here. For now, museum capacity is still reduced to keep everyone safe and masks are required.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

Bremerton coach...
MyNorthwest Staff

McKenna: ‘Real chance’ Bremerton coach could prevail in SCOTUS case over praying at games

Could former Bremerton High School football Coach Joe Kennedy finally score a legal victory in front of the Supreme Court?
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Washington Rep. Kilmer says voting rules must pass the ‘grandma’ test

Congressman Derek Kilmer believes certain voting rights need to be enshrined nationwide, and it has to do with his grandma
1 day ago
Stevens Pass, snow...
Dave Ross

Ross: The snow is gone, but the storm continues

One of the essential functions of snow storms in Washington state is to give us one more reason to get angry at the government.
1 day ago
voting rights...
Dave Ross

Ross: It’s time to start working on a plan B to protect voting rights

Everyone who is passionate about protecting voting rights, start working on plan B now. Use that anger to show voters how to comply with repressive laws.
2 days ago
Inslee, swear...
Dave Ross

Ross: Let them swear they will tell nothing but the truth

My daughter heard yesterday’s commentary about Inslee’s proposed law to discourage candidates from lying about elections, and came up with an alternative.
3 days ago
health care workers, hospital...
MyNorthwest Staff

Mercer Island MD: New guidelines for health workers could expose ‘vulnerable people’

Dr. Gordon Cohen, Mercer Island MD, comments on the new guidelines from the CDC that allow COVID-positive health care workers to return to work.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Seattle Asian Art Museum set to reopen to public after 3-year renovation