Seattle Art Museum

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
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Trip End Oct 14, 2011


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Where I stayed
Travelodge Sea-Tac Airport North Seattle
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Washington
Thursday, August 18, 2011




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Today was my first day exploring Seattle. I'm told that they had a cold and wet spring and early summer but the weather today was sunny and warm.

My first stop was the Chapel of St. Ignatius. The chapel is on the campus of Seattle University, the largest Jesuit Catholic university in the Northwest. I showed up just a minute or two after services had started so I wandered around the campus until they were over. Many plants do very well in the damp climate here and the campus, in general, and the gardens, in particular, looked quite nice.

After the services I finally got to go in the chapel. It's surprisingly small, given the size of the campus, and modest, given that it's Catholic. Steven Holl, the architect of the building, describes it as, "Seven bottles of light in a stone box". Well, I can't say I got that from it but the lighting is interesting with a lot of variety. Some windows are covered with translucent, white, molded glass panels. Others with various colored glass panels that result in colored spots of light on the walls when the sun is shining. The main area of the chapel has interesting clear blown glass suspended lamps. The interior walls are plaster and the indirect light highlights the irregular surface.

My next stop was the Seattle Central Library by the architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus. The unique, striking design, consisting of a number of discrete "floating platforms" that look as though they were wrapped in glass skin and tied up in a large steel net has gotten mixed since it opened in 2004. My opinion is mixed as well. I liked the general look of the building but there were aspects that seemed terribly wrong. For instance, there's an area on the 3rd floor called the Living Room that's more or less a reading room. Although many people spend their time there, there is no restroom. There's one on the 4th floor but if you take the escalator from the Living Room it skips the 4th floor and goes up to the 5th floor, which does not have restrooms either. You have to take the stairs or an elevator to get to the 4th floor.

My next stop was Benaroya Hall to see the two Dale Chihuly chandeliers in the lobby. I like Chihuly's work but I found the clear glass chandeliers a little dull compared to his more colorful work.

Next was the Seattle Art Museum (SAM).  It's a fairly large museum with a wide-ranging collection including Australian Aboriginal, African, Islamic, Asian, Native American, European and Northwestern art ranging in age from ancient to Modern and Contemporary.  While the museum has a lot of breadth, in most areas there were no pieces that really stood out to me as highlights of the collection.

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