I was in Seattle over the weekend giving a “Starving” to Successful workshop. The trip was extremely brief – I landed in Seattle at 11:00 p.m. Frday and was back in the air again by 5:40 p.m. Saturday (there just long enough to wonder why I live in Arizona during the summer). My workshop ended at 1:00 Saturday, and by the time I finished visiting with the attending artists and got all my gear stowed, it was nearly 2:00. This meant I had two free hours and a rental car. My instant reaction in such a situation is to find the nearest art museum and make a quick visit. I looked up Seattle’s art museum on my phone, plotted the course, and took off.
By the time I got to the museum in downtown Seattle I could see that I was only going to have about 54 minutes, 12 seconds to do the entire museum. I’ve spent longer than that staring at a single Rothko painting. Not an ideal scenario, but it’s what I was stuck with. I parked, made my way to the front desk and started a virtual sprint through the galleries.
I know nothing about the history of the museum and I didn’t have time to learn anything about it, but basically it appears the museum has taken over 3-4 floors of a high-rise. The architecture is well done and the museum has some fun spaces. I think this museum could make a good case for using existing spaces instead of building independent buildings for museums.
That said, the Seattle Museum of Art doesn’t have a huge collection. There are some nice pieces, but it turns out the 55 minutes I had was just about enough to survey the museum. Two hours would have been more than enough to see and experience just about everything.
Highlights for me: The museum has a nice minimalist collection, some interesting renaissance works, along with some interesting modern art. There was a beautiful Lee Krasner, a nice, though small, Jackson Pollock. I spent some time admiring a spectacular Frederic Church painting.
The area I would have spent more time in would have been the Northwest Native American collection. I know nothing about Northwest Coast Native Art and the museum has some spectacular pieces. I’m always excited to learn something new and get a peek into a culture I’m unfamiliar with, but, unfortunately, by the time I came to those displays my countdown was getting critical and I had to breeze through with only a few quick stops and a mental note to return.
Overall, I can recommend a visit to the museum if you have a few extra hours when you are in the Emerald City. The museum asks for a voluntary $17 admission – and I find that number to be a little aggressive. The Met asks for $25, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is $20, and the Cleveland Museum of Art is free. Compared to these world class museums, $17 seems like a lot for what you are going to see. I guess the museum needs the money to grow, but I wouldn’t feel guilty about giving them a $10 donation instead of the suggested $17.
Below are my snapshots from the museum. They are in no particular order, and while I usually try to get the wall info for each piece I photograph when I visit a museum, I just didn’t have time to do it here. Consider it a test of your art history acumen to figure out who the artists are!
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