Tag Archives: In 2017, Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum to close for 18 months for $45M overhaul

Dr. Wilda Reviews Seattle Asian Art Museum Reboot

29 Sep

Moi was one of local media invited to attend a press conference which described the current status of the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) reboot of the Asian Art Museum. Bryan Cohen   of the Capital Hill Blog provides context in In 2017, Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum to close for 18 months for $45M overhaul:

The art museum at the heart of Volunteer Park is preparing for its first major upgrade since it opened its doors 83 years ago. Seattle Art Museum has begun soliciting contractors for an overhaul to its Asian Art Museum that will include adding at least 7,500-square-feet of new gallery and event space, as well as an education studio and art storage space.

SAM plans to close the museum in the spring of 2017 for about 18 months until work is complete. Plans also call for replacing the heating and A/C systems, remodeling the bathrooms, accessibility upgrades, and seismic improvements.

The $28 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.

UPDATE: CHS asked for the budget on the project — the $28 million covers only construction. The total planned cost for the overhaul is $45 million, SAM now tells CHS.

“SAM is in the preliminary planning phase of the Asian Art Museum renovation,” a SAM spokesperson writes. “The anticipated total cost for the project is currently estimated to be in the neighborhood of $45 million, but is dependent on the final design to be revealed later this year.”

The building’s Art Deco facade will remain in tact, but some exterior work will be part of the overhaul. The landmarks protected building will also require the approval of the city’s Architectural Review Committee. A spokesperson for SAM said the museum did not have additional details as it is still working with LMN Architects on the designs….                                   http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2016/06/in-2017-volunteer-parks-asian-art-museum-to-close-for-18-months-for-28m-overhaul/

The project has funds already committed from King County and SAM is hopeful that it will receive funds from Seattle and the State of Washington.

Moi asked two questions during the press conference and after the press conference more questions came to mind. During the press conference moi asked:

  1. Does the update mean that more artifacts now in storage will be permanently displayed?
  2. Since the education space in the proposed building is expanded, does that mean there will be more education programs open to the public?

The questions which moi had after the presentation are:

  1. Given that the expansion is a public-private partnership, why did the public members agree to provide the funds? What is the accountability for the dispersal of the funds, are there benchmarks, and what is the public benefit. This question should probably be addressed to the public bodies.
  2. Does this project fit into the general purpose of the question what is a museum?

A representative of SAM was unsure, at this point, about the amount of new exhibit space and the plan is toward more education programs.

SAM Asian Museum is interesting for a number of reasons including the building and the fact that it is sited at Volunteer Park   http://volunteerparktrust.org/history/  Both the Asian Art Museum and park are on the National Historic Registry and Seattle Landmark Registry. Both the building and park have vocal supporters who are protective of each venue and that loyalty presents challenges to any update or change. Eugene Dillenburg in What, if Anything, Is a Museum?

The Heart of the Matter

Exhibits, I will argue, are the defining feature of the museum. They are what make us different from every other type of public service organization. Exhibits are how we educate. Exhibits are what we do with our collections. Yes, we do other things as well, and those things—research, publication, outreach, programming—are very important. But those things are not unique to the museum. Only the museum uses exhibits as its primary means of fulfilling its public service mission.

Thus, a more robust definition of a museum might be: an institution whose core function

includes the presentation of public exhibits for the public good.A museum can do many things, but to merit that title it must do exhibits….                                                                                      http://name-aam.org/uploads/downloadables/EXH.spg_11/5%20EXH_spg11_What,%20if%20Anything,%20Is%20a%20Museum__Dillenburg.pdf

Dillenburg provides the rationale for the current reboot.

SAM makes the following points at the SAM site:

PRESERVE TODAY. INSPIRE FOREVER.

From its cherished Art Deco façade to the lush urban greenspace that surrounds it, the Asian Art Museum is one of the most beloved treasures in our creative, cultured, and curious city. As SAM’s original home and the heart of beautiful Volunteer Park, the museum is an invaluable anchor in our city’s rapidly changing landscape.

But did you know that our historic museum hasn’t been substantially restored or renovated since its inception in 1933? Join us in this long-overdue initiative to renovate a beloved cultural landmark and preserve a quintessential Seattle experience forever.

Restoring an icon

Think about the first time you saw the Asian Art Museum’s magnificent Art Deco exterior. Or when you played atop the famed camels flanking the front doors—then crossed the threshold to experience exceptional art from around the globe.

These are the experiences that shape Seattle’s visual fabric. The Asian Art Museum has been a part of this shared history since 1933, when Paris-trained architect Carl Gould put the final touches on the museum’s stunning design. In the same year, museum founder Dr. Richard E. Fuller donated to the museum to the city as the first home of SAM, which would eventually be named to the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places.

In a city where change is as constant as rain in the forecast, our renovation plan ensures the museum’s future.

Protecting our collection

From majestic Buddha sculptures to our iconic early 17th-century Japanese Crows screens to the recently acquired Colored Vases by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, our collection has been imaginatively curated and expanded for 80 years.

Our renovation plan will help us safeguard these precious works through significant improvements in our heating and cooling systems, art storage, and conservation space. These necessary renovations will help us preserve our treasured collection so that it may be enjoyed for generations to come.

Connecting with Asia

The rich programming of the Asian Art Museum has long explored fascinating, diverse perspectives on Asian history and culture and Asia’s presence in the world. With special exhibitions like Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur and Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World, the popular Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas Saturday University lecture series, and our lively Free First Saturday events for families, our mission is to provide a deep, multi-faceted understanding of Asia, one of the most significant cultural and economic regions in the world.

Our exciting renovation plans include expanding our already exhilarating programming and exhibition and educational spaces, allowing all of us to connect with the continent’s cultures as never before.

ENHANCING AND EXPANDING OUR SPACE

After the proposed expansion, doors in the Fuller Garden Court will lead to a brilliant new glass addition, providing views to Volunteer Park, a welcoming green space in our increasingly dense city, and long one of Seattle’s favorite Olmsted Parks. The modest addition will create a new gallery and more space for our community to gather around art and culture, enjoy public programs, and host events. It will also improve circulation to meeting rooms, education spaces, library, and auditorium.

http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/inspire

The architect renderings are impressive and the primary issue in moi’s analysis is what this project would do to impact future exhibit. Clearly, the mechanical updates are needed and necessary to upgrade the types of exhibits which come from other museums and collectors worried about the delicate nature of some artifacts. An huge unanswered question is whether more items in the permanent collection will see the light of day.

Dr. Wilda gives a cautious thumbs up to the renovation.

Here is the 2007 Fiscal Note:

Form revised October 26, 2007

FISCAL NOTE FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS ONLY

 

Department: Contact Person/Phone: DOF Analyst/Phone:
Department of Parks and Recreation Kevin Stoops / 684-7053  Jan Oscherwitz / 684-8510

 

Legislation Title:
 AN ORDINANCE related to the Seattle Art Museum, authorizing the execution of an agreement  between the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Art Museum, concerning their roles in the planning and design of the restoration of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, modifying the City’s obligations under the Construction and Finance Agreement between the said parties for work on public park property associated with Olympic Sculpture Park, and amending the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation 2007 Adopted Budget, including the 2007-2012 Capital Improvement Program, by modifying appropriations to various budget control levels.

 

Summary and background of the Legislation:

 

This proposed legislation authorizes the Superintendent of the Department of Parks and Recreation to execute an agreement between the City of Seattle (City) and the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for designing the restoration of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) in Volunteer Park.  This agreement allows SAM to serve as the City’s agent in restoration of SAAM through the permitting process.  It also modifies the City’s obligations under the Construction and Finance Agreement between the City and SAM for work on public park property associated with Olympic Sculpture Park (OSP), and transfers appropriations from the OSP Projects to the SAAM Restoration project. 

The City and SAM have had a long-term relationship and operating agreement regarding the museum building in Volunteer Park currently known at the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM). As part of a 1931 agreement authorized by Ordinance 61998, SAM (formerly the Art Institute of Seattle) agreed to provide funds to build and operate the museum and the City agreed to fund utility costs and janitorial services and keep the facility in good repair.  The building was completed in 1933 at a cost of more than $250,000.  Additions were constructed at City and SAM expense in 1947, 1954, 1959, and again in 1969.  The agreement between the City and SAM was most recently amended in 1981 through Ordinance 109767.  In that agreement, the parties agreed to cooperate in assessing the need for capital improvements and in seeking City funding as well as public and private grants for those improvements.  In the last 20 years, the City has spent about $3.2 million on capital repairs and improvements to SAAM.

 

In 2006, SAM commissioned a study by LMN Architects, McKinstry Essention, Inc., and Sellen Construction that recommended replacing SAAM’s original 1933 boiler and related ductwork, adding a chiller plant and humidification and air handling systems to reduce energy costs, and making significant structural improvements to the building to address seismic concerns at an estimated cost of $23.2 million.  The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) anticipates hiring a consultant to critique this work with funds provided through the 4th Quarter Supplemental Ordinance.

 

With the approval of this legislation and after completion of DPR’s technical review, SAM will continue design work on mutually agreed upon renovations and act as the City’s agent to secure permits and other regulatory approvals.  Funds from the work will come from a transfer of City money originally pledged to OSP.  SAM has recently been awarded $2 million of additional funds from the Kreielsheimer Remainder Foundation, freeing up City funds for use at SAAM.  The Board of Trustees of SAM has agreed to reduce the amount of City financial obligation for OSP by $2 million, conditioned on the City re-appropriating those funds for exclusive use in planning and pre-construction activities associated with the SAAM restoration project (see Attachment 1 – letter from SAM Board Chair, Jon Shirley).

 

This legislation does not commit the City or SAM to the construction of improvements at SAAM.  These will be negotiated in a future agreement and will be considered in future legislation or as part of a future budget process.

http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~clerkItems/fnote/116100.htm

Resources:

Seattle Residents Protest Asian Art Museum’s $45 Million Expansion Project                           http://artforum.com/news/id=63170

A brief history of the Seattle Art Museum                                                                                     http://www.seattlepi.com/ae/article/A-brief-history-of-the-Seattle-Art-Museum-1235822.php

Seattle Asian Art Museum Improvements                                                                               http://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/seattle-asian-art-museum-improvements

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