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Seattle Art Museum announces $150 million campaign with over $125M pledged to date
Included are four leadership gifts from individual donors totaling over $56M supporting all aspects of the museum’s mission.

SEATTLE, WA.- The Seattle Art Museum announced today the launch of the public phase of a $150 million campaign, SAM Forward, including four leadership gifts totaling over $56 million from donors who are longtime supporters of the museum. To date, the campaign has raised more than $125 million towards its goals of renovating and expanding the Seattle Asian Art Museum, bolstering the museum’s endowment to support and expand the institution’s artistic and educational programs, and investing in bold projects that will advance SAM’s position as an international leader in the arts.

“This is a historic moment for SAM and our community,” says Kimerly Rorschach, Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO. “This campaign funds a beautifully restored and expanded Seattle Asian Art Museum. It strengthens the institution’s financial foundation, empowering future generations to make strategic choices and take artistic and programmatic risks. This is happening at a crucial time, when Seattle is evolving and the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. SAM Forward ensures an incredible legacy for the entire community of Seattle and beyond.”

Launched in 2015, SAM Forward presents an opportunity to expand key programs and projects to strengthen the museum’s impact in the region and reach broader audiences across its three sites, which collectively serve nearly a million visitors every year. The Seattle Asian Art Museum’s increased space will allow for expanded programs that explore diverse perspectives on Asian art and culture. At the Olympic Sculpture Park, investments will ensure year-long activation of the site through free programs for all. Finally, a strengthened institutional endowment will underpin all that SAM does, including presenting special exhibitions and sharing the museum’s diverse permanent collection.

Winnie Stratton, President of SAM’s Board of Trustees, and Charlie Wright, SAM trustee, serve as co-chairs of the SAM Forward campaign. “We have been so inspired to see the many ways supporters have stepped up to advance the museum and its mission to connect art to life,” says Stratton. Adds Wright, “SAM has always been an ambitious institution. We have long known of the critical needs driving this campaign, but we are also taking this opportunity to push ourselves in new ways and achieve even greater successes.”

SAM Forward is another in a series of successful campaigns over the institution’s history that have transformed the cultural fabric of the city and region. Over the years, SAM has constructed new buildings in the heart of downtown, created an award-winning sculpture park on Puget Sound, strengthened and expanded its collections, and cared for and preserved thousands of works of art. SAM has welcomed millions of visitors to its three sites: The Seattle Art Museum downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront.

The Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation and expansion project takes an early 20th-century building and brings it up to 21st-century standards. The project preserves the 1933 historic building and its Art Deco façade, improves the building’s infrastructure, protects the collection with climate control and seismic system upgrades, enhances ADA accessibility, and improves the museum’s connection to Volunteer Park, including the restoration of historic, Olmsted-designed pathways in the park. An expansion of the historic building provides approximately 13,900 square feet of much-needed space, making way for a new exhibition gallery, a dedicated education space, and a new conservation center.

A larger endowment will support the artistic and educational programs across all three of SAM’s sites and provide greater access for the region’s ever-growing community. Over the years, SAM has generated significant artistic scholarship and presented groundbreaking exhibitions, including Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso (2010), Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic (2016), and Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors (2017). SAM’s education initiatives serve schoolchildren, educators, families, and adults through hands-on programs that have become nationally recognized models for engaging new audiences. Each year, SAM serves nearly 40,000 students through in-museum programs and provides professional development opportunities for over 1,700 teachers.

Investments in key strategic projects will allow the museum to innovate and expand its offerings. This includes a variety of significant opportunities, such as the $3.5 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish and endow the Asian Paintings Conservation Center at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the only one of its kind in the western United States. SAM is also committed to securing funds for the creation of a new program on South Asian art and culture, including a full-time curator, more classical and contemporary exhibitions, and care for and expansion of SAM’s South Asian collection. Other strategic investments include: major art acquisitions that expand and enhance SAM’s global collection; increased programming at the Olympic Sculpture Park; resources for the institution’s equity initiatives, including a paid internship program aimed at historically underrepresented groups in the museum field; and funding for the institution’s technology infrastructure that will enable our visitors to engage with the museum through technology.

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