The Seattle Art Museum is a well-known museum in Seattle. It houses a wide array of pieces from various disciplines and locales around the world.
There are three facilities, the main museum of Downtown Seattle, the Seattle Asian Art Museum on Capitol Hill, and Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront. SAAM opened in 2003.
The SAM collection has grown from 1,926 pieces in 1933 to nearly 25,000 as of 2008 and its original museum provided an area of 25,000 square feet while the present facilities provide 312,000 square feet plus a 9-acre.
The number of paid staff has grown from 7 to 303, while our museum library has increased from 1,400 books to 33,252.
The abbreviation SAM can be traced to the Seattle Fine Arts Society (organized 1905) and the Washington Arts Association (organized 1906), which merged in 1917, keeping the Fine Arts Society name. In 1931 it changed its title to the Art Institute of Seattle.
The Art Institute housed its collection in Henry House, the former home of the collector and founder of the Henry Art Gallery. The house served as a gallery on Capitol Hill.
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The President of Seattle Fine Arts Society, Richard E. Fuller, was a vital figure for the museum in its founding days back in the late 1800s. It was during this time that his mother, Margaret MacTavish Fuller donated a sum of 250,000 dollars to build an art museum that would be located at Volunteer Park to fill the need for extra exhibition space.
The city provided the land for this project, which is why they are able to keep ownership of it. Carl F. Gould, an architect with Bebb and Gould, designed the building in the Art Deco/Art Moderne style. It opened on June 23rd 1933.
The Art Institute contributed one of the largest collections to the original Seattle Art Museum, which was founded on their behalf. This included paintings, drawings, sculptures, dolls & more. The museum would have not been able to open if it weren't for their generous gifts - they were also responsible for managing art activities at first.
SAM collaborated with the National Council on the Arts (later NEA), Richard Fuller, and the Seattle Foundation (in part, another Fuller family endeavor) in acquiring Isamu Noguchi's sculpture Black Sun in front of the museum.
The museum's first commission was to redevelop part of the city block that was formerly occupied by the J. C. Penney department store.
They eventually agreed that this particular location was unsuitable. The land sold for private development as the Newmark Building, and the museum acquired adjacent land in the next block south instead. On December 5, 1991, SAM reopened at a cost of $62 million.