The Seattle Asian Art Museum housed in a historic Art Deco building featuring paintings, sculptures and works of art both ancient and contemporary has reopened to the public after undergoing years of renovations.
The museum held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this past weekend where it welcomed the community with exhibits including “Boundless: Stories of Asian Art” and “Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art.” The museum — which was reimagined with a $56 million renovation — now offers a “thematic, rather than geographic or chronological, exploration of art from the world’s largest continent.”
The museum’s art invokes themes surrounding several ideas, such as worship, clothing and identity, and has large windows with views of Volunteer Park.
“We could not be more excited to open the doors of the museum and welcome everyone back,” said Amada Cruz, CEO of the Seattle Art Museum, in a news release. “The new and refreshed galleries will display art from the collection that has never been on view before, and the resonant themes of the installation will provoke both delight and curiosity. The new connections to and views of Volunteer Park are stunning.”
Cruz said the reopening of the museum will also “see a deepening of an ongoing shift in our collecting.”
“SAM (Seattle Art Museum) will continue a significant recent focus on acquisitions of historic, modern, and contemporary Asian Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian Art,” Cruz said.
Each room in the museum held different types and forms of art, with a variety of themes celebrating Asia’s history and diversity.
One of the museum’s expansive exhibition rooms featured a garment built out of thousands of soldiers’ IDs. The “Some/One” piece by Do Hu Suh came from an assignment at the Rhode Island School of Design to “express identity through clothing.” Suh — who had served a two-year mandatory service in the Korean military — shows with the piece the lives of people reduced to “a handful of letters and numbers.”
Another room, dimly lit, showed images of the Buddha, inviting people to pause for a “moment of serenity and renewal in their company.”
Other parts of the museum displayed different kinds of clothing, asking viewers: “Are we what we wear?” while another gallery showcased the relationships between text and images.
A more playful room, featuring a “Flower Ball,” by Takashi Murakami, showed vibrantly painted flowers of different colors and shades, each appearing to be smiling. Next to it was a wall inviting people to take part of the exhibit, asking what objects tell one’s own stories.
Xiaojin Wu, curator of Japanese and Korean art and one of the collaborators for the “Boundless: Stories of Asian Art” installation, said it was exciting to see these works of art “in a new light.”
“Over the last three years,” Wu said, “as we carefully put together the objects and themes, we always kept the visitor in mind, looking for ways to ignite questions and spark wonder.”
The museum will be open Wednesday through Sunday and will include four new free days offered every month.