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An Asian Art Museum Transformed

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) was founded in 1933 as a gift to the city by the philanthropist and passionate collector of Asian art Richard E. Fuller (1897–1976), together with his mother Margaret E. MacTavish Fuller (1860–1953). Fuller donated his collection of Chinese, Japanese and other Asian art, and commissioned architects Carl Gould and Charles Bebb to design an Art Deco-style building in the Olmsted Brothers’ Volunteer Park (Fig. 3). SAM won national acclaim as the first modernist museum in the United States (Booth and Wilson, 1995, pp. 153–61). Over the decades, the museum’s collection has grown to include works from around the world, and it now comprises three locations: the original architectural landmark, renamed the Seattle Asian Art Museum (hereafter the Asian Art Museum) in 1994; a downtown building, which opened in 1991 and was expanded in 2007; and the Olympic Sculpture Park, opening on Seattle’s waterfront in 2007.

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May/June 2020
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