From the Seattle Art Museum to the various art walks, galleries, and festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest, there are nearly endless options when it comes to art exposure in Seattle and the surrounding areas. Whether you’re a Seattle native, or one of the many tourists that have made Seattle a top vacation destination, here are some of our favorite art events, locations, and attractions that make Seattle a leader in the art world!
Chihuly Garden and Glass
One of the newest attractions on our list, Chihuly Garden and Glass opened in 2012. The gallery, located at the base of the Space Needle, is a spectacular display featuring the glass art of iconic Pacific Northwest artist Dave Chihuly. With spiraling tendrils of brightly colored glass art, the naturalistic and fantastical forms of the exhibits, from the glass house to the garden, are a must-see when it comes to Seattle art attractions.
Seattle Art Museum
On the other end of the spectrum, the Seattle Art Museum is a historical icon of downtown Seattle, first established in 1933. Featuring the famous hammering man outside the “Art Ladder,” which is open to the public and free, the Seattle Art Museum was remodeled and expanded in 1991, and now takes up half a city block. The collection has 25,000 pieces from all over the world, and regularly features new exhibitions. While we think that the SAM membership is a great investment, if you’re working on a budget the museum features free entry on the first Thursday of every month!
Seattle Asian Art Museum
Another branch of the Seattle Art Museum is the Seattle Asian Art Museum, located in Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park. Housed in a historic 1930’s building, the Asian Art Museum is also free on the first Thursday and Saturday of every month, and makes for an excellent stop in conjunction with the rest of the sights in Volunteer Park, such as the Conservatory and the water tower.
Frye Art Museum
The Frye Art Museum, near the Seattle University campus in First Hill, is always free, and features an emphasis on paintings from the nineteenth century to the present. The current exhibition, running through September 13th, features screen tests from Andy Warhol, and we highly recommend checking it out!
Olympic Sculpture Park
Also part of the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park is an outdoor, waterfront attraction that was only recently opened in 2007. The 9 acre park, built on land that was previously used for industrial purposes, features large contemporary sculptures and art installations. The park is open to the public for free all year round, so there’s no excuse to miss out!
Henry Art Gallery
The Henry Art Gallery is the University of Washington’s dedicated art museum, located in the U District on campus. Founded in 1927, the Henry Art Gallery is actually older than the Seattle Art Museum! Featuring contemporary art and photography, the Gallery also provides a unique view of student art from the UW as well. Go Huskies!
Edmonds Art Festival
If you’re willing to drive a little ways north, the Edmonds Art Festival is just one of the many fun summer art fests that take place all around the Puget Sound. Located in historic Downtown Edmonds every Father’s Day weekend in June, the art festival features the art and crafts of local and regional artists, as well as student artwork. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 100 art festivals in the country, so make sure you plan on attending next year!
Pioneer Square Art Galleries
Speaking of historic neighborhoods, it doesn’t get much more historical than Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. The neighborhood is a hub of contemporary art galleries, with 48 of them located in this small area alone. We recommend checking out the Pioneer Square Art Walk to get a small taste of all of them!
Bellevue Arts Museum
Over on the East Side, the Bellevue Arts Museum is located across the street from Bellevue Square, in a sophisticated and modern building designed by noted architect Steven Holl. After financial troubles caused the museum to close in 2003, it was reopened to the public in 2005, although it doesn’t feature a permanent collection. The focus instead is on classes and workshops, bringing art to the public.
Tacoma Art Museum
Down south a ways, the Tacoma Art Museum recently hosted an exhibit on Georgia O’Keefe, and is a hidden gem in the newly revitalized downtown corridor of Tacoma. With an emphasis on art from the Northwest, USA Today named the TAM as one of the “Top 10 Great Places to See Art in Smaller Cities”. Make a day trip by hopping on the Sounder and checking out some of the great restaurants that are located nearby as well!