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Seattle Asian Art Museum closes for renovation and expansion

First six months set for design, relocation

By Brandon Macz
2/27/2017 2:52 PM

The Seattle Asian Art Museum will close for a two-year renovation and expansion project on Monday, Feb. 27, however, the contentious expansion of the museum’s footprint remains under review by Seattle Parks and Recreation.

It will take at least six months to move museum operations and the art collection, according to the Seattle Art Museum, as well as preparing the site before construction begins. SAM reports “Serious seismic and climate control issues put both the art and patrons at risk, necessitating the closure.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent Jesús Aguirre put a “project pause” on the renovation in January, requesting SAM provide more information about the expansion, so SPR can “better understand some of the project’s drivers and more carefully consider (Volunteer Park) impacts.”

SAM issued a response to questions posed by Aguirre on Jan. 23. Rachel Schulkin with SPR reports the department is still considering the response, and expect to address the expansion with SAM shortly.

While the total expansion is more than 12,500 square feet, much of that square footage will be spread across three stories of a new addition to the southeast side of the museum, increasing the building’s footprint by 3,600 square feet.

That addition will include offices, a new meeting space and a 1,220-square-foot education and art-making space. SAM provided 251 programs at the museum in 2015, serving 17,000 people.

Constructed in 1933, the Seattle Asian Art Museum still uses the original furnace. While heat is provided to the building, the museum does not have air conditioning or a climate control system, which limits the amount of collections being made available for display.

A major part of the renovation will be a seismic retrofit, replacing a number of walls that were constructed with hollow clay tile.

The Seattle Asian Art Museum is expected to reopen in 2019.

Prior to its closing, the museum will be free to the public Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26.

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