An Update on the Expansion of the Asian Art Museum


come on, BANANAs. let them expand. it's going to be way nicer, and that space will become defined and MORE useable if anything. that's how good design works.
Also: kids who come to AAM for field trips get an actual fucking studio to work in now, and not a conference room and adjacent kitchen.

Also @1 fucking for real. the back of that museum is ugly AF
Or... the museum puts a stunning glass structure on top and maybe gallery space underground with a skylight along the front lawn. Or maybe some program needs go off site? I don't recall the museum presenting any options beyond the one they want, which is the park-eating one. Since it is a city-owned building in a city-owned park, perhaps we should follow public involvement protocols that SAM, a private organization, has felt free to ignore.
Please issue a correction. The Seattle Art Museum is NOT funding the project out of the goodness of its heart. Roughly two-thirds is public money taken from citizens who love Volunteer Park's FREE green space but rarely visit the museum. In 2008 voters approved renovation only - SAM never bothered to ask us about expansion till their plans were set. SAM gets free rent, free utilities, free upkeep, for which WE get a 50' hulk, 4 free days a month and no public restrooms? No noblesse oblige here. I love Asian art but reject SAM's elitist, entitled attitude and demonstrated distain for our finest National landmark Olmsted park. Green space users, landmark lovers: speak up! We deserve a win:win solution. SAM won't deliver one on a silver platter. They will do better only if we demand it, for ourselves and generations to come.
Yes @4 is correct, the public voted $9 million in city funds for the necessary renovations (seismic/HVAC/ADA) and the city Parks department now proposes to throw in an extra $10 million to fund the expansion. Other public funding comes from the state, county, and historic rehabilitation tax credits. SAM's private funding is expected to be $20.1 million out of the $49 million total.

I think for context it is helpful to consider other financial background also. SAM uses this City-owned building for free, and has its utilities and custodial services paid for by the city (in addition to free parking). This arrangement has been in place since the 1930's. The original agreement also provided for free admission for the public, 4 days per week, but we lost that in stages along the way.

Also, SAM has 8 floors of unused expansion space in its downtown building. The building is financed partly by a city bond guarantee (counting against the city's bonding limit). These floors have been leased out as Nordstrom office space until 2031, to raise revenue for SAM. I don't think the city gets any of that lease revenue.
It's a freaking LAWN, people! They're not cutting down any trees. Go protest all the developments all over Seattle replacing trees with concrete!
@6 What do you have against grass? (and FYI, they intend to cut down several trees and replace them with an awful lot of concrete. I hope this makes you a compatriot.)
@4 They do seem to have bad planning like that. Remember how they "forgot" to build something for the streetcar on the waterfront. I don't know why but the city council overlooks it and let's the Art Museum be shady. Worst part is, SAM isn't even all that awesome of a museum.
Please don't take my favorite part of the park away. I love that quite peaceful area. Why is the park being treated like it is the museum's own private backyard and therefore they can take public land without public approval? Why did the City Park and Recreation Department give our parkland away to a private organization? This isn't right? This seems like a secret deal to me and unfair to the many of us who use the park and never go into the museum. Let the public decide.... let the public vote if they want this or not.
@5 Are they still "suggested donation"? If so, you can make it free or reduced priced day by saying you'd like to pay $1. Considering they get free rent and tax money, I don't see why you should feel guilty at all if you are a city resident.

This is why Republicans reflexively say no to tax increases because of examples like this. How much tax money should this stuff. This mostly benefits the administrators and other people who want to work in arts, not really the public.
The expansion looks good. I bet this doesn't even take up 5% more of Volunteer Park's green space. Your arguments against it are ridiculous, especially the "I never use the museum, so it's a bad idea."
Ugh, seriously though, is this just neighborhood people worried about parking? It probably is. It always is.

Let them build it. In a few years, you'll have a great museum and no one will remember there used to be a piece of lawn there. The goddamn parking lot is nearly the footprint of the existing building, no one seems to miss that grass.

The De Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park—you can probably imagine the hell raised based simply on the three words in that sentence. Now complete, and very much loved by all.