Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Past Exhibitions

< >

SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle

May 5 – Sep 9 2007

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

This summer only:
The biggest names in art are under one roof

Come see the extraordinary masterpieces recently given to SAM! On display are pieces by some of the biggest names in the art world, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, John Singer Sargent, Constantin Brancusi, Jasper Johns, Thomas Eakins, Gerhard Richter, Mary Cassatt and more.

“The donations [of art] represent one of the largest gifts to a museum in the history of U.S. philanthropy.”
The Art Newspaper

The generosity of passionate collectors, beginning with founder and first director Richard E. Fuller and followed by a host of donors, has continually enhanced and ultimately shaped the Seattle Art Museum collection over the last 7 decades. As the new century began, the museum’s collection numbered 20,000 objects from 140 cultures, and SAM embarked on 2 major expansion projects—the Olympic Sculpture Park and the expansion of the downtown building. These ambitious undertakings express the profound effect that collecting has had on the institution, reinforcing a shared commitment to the future of our city. The greatly expanded Seattle Art Museum was inspired by the need to add more space for art—in large part so that the great private collections in our region could be accessible to all and a treasured public resource for generations to come.

The culmination of our expansion is based in the overwhelming outpouring of generosity from collectors and donors who have gifted over 1000 works to SAM’s permanent holdings in honor of the museum’s 75th Anniversary in 2008. Some artworks have already entered the collection, while others will come in the future. Eight collectors have magnanimously pledged their entire collections to SAM, while other donors have made stellar individual gifts. Today, the museum’s collections comprise over 23,000 works of art that can be displayed in any of our 3 sites around the city.

Over 200 of these newly acquired works are exhibited throughout our new downtown galleries. One hundred twenty-five works are integrated into the permanent collection, and another 100 are displayed here in our special exhibition galleries (look for the logo by each gift). At SAM, the future is now.

Finally, we celebrate the opening of SAM’s new galleries with Five Masterpieces of Asian Art: The Story of their Conservation, an exquisite exhibition featuring beloved rare masterworks from our collection that have recently been conserved. The conservation of these treasures demonstrates both the museum’s ongoing dedication to works of art in our care and recognition of their importance as invaluable educational resources for posterity.

This exhibition was made possible with generous support from the Microsoft Corporation and 4Culture King County Lodging Tax Fund. Endowment support provided by the Kreielsheimer Exhibition Endowment. Additional support provided by contributors to the Annual Fund.
Bird in Space, 1926, Constantin Brancusi, French (born Romania), 1876–1957, bronze with wood and marble base, overall height: 115 1/4 in., Partial and promised gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2000.221, © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, Photo: Paul Macapia

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM