Olympic Sculpture Park

The Olympic Sculpture Park, created and operated by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), is a public park with modern and contemporary sculpture in downtown Seattle, Washington. The park, which opened January 20, 2007, consists of a 9-acre (36,000 m2) outdoor sculpture museum, and indoor pavillion, and a beach on Puget Sound.[1] It is situated in Belltown at the northern end of the Central Waterfront and the southern end of Myrtle Edwards Park.

Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park from Space Needle - Seattle.JPG
The park as viewed from the Space Needle
TypeSculpture park
Location2901 Western Avenue
Seattle, Washington
Coordinates47°36′59″N 122°21′19″W / 47.61639°N 122.35528°W / 47.61639; -122.35528Coordinates: 47°36′59″N 122°21′19″W / 47.61639°N 122.35528°W / 47.61639; -122.35528
Area8.5 acres (3.4 ha)
FounderMary and Jon Shirley
DesignerWeiss/Manfredi
Operated bySeattle Art Museum
OpenJanuary 20, 2007
Public transit accessWestlake station (Sound Transit)
Other informationOpen sunrise to sunset
Websiteofficial website

The Olympic Sculpture Park is a free-admission outdoor sculpture park with both permanent outdoor sculpture, temporary works, and site-specific installations.[2] The Seattle Art Museum regularly rotates a major artwork at the Olympic Sculpture Park, including installations by Victoria Haven from 2016 - 2017,[3] Spencer Finch from 2017 - 2019,[4] and Regina Silveira from 2019 - 2020.[5]

HistoryEdit

 
The site in 1934, with oil storage facility at center right; streetcar building to the left.

The former industrial site was occupied by the oil and gas corporation Unocal until the 1970s and subsequently became a contaminated brownfield before the Seattle Art Museum proposed to transform the area into one of the only green spaces in Downtown Seattle. The park's lead designer was Weiss/Manfredi Architects,[6] who collaborated with Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture, Magnusson Klemencic Associates and other consultants.

BackgroundEdit

The idea of green space for large, monumental sculpture in Seattle was first discussed between Virginia and Bagley Wright, Mary and Jon Shirley (former president of Microsoft and Chairman of the Seattle Art Museum Board of Directors at the time), and then Seattle Art Museum director (and wife of William Gates Sr.) Mimi Gardner Gates.[7] The idea grew further during a discussion in 1996 between Robert Measures, Martha Wyckoff, and Mimi Gardner Gates while stranded on a fly fishing trip in Mongolia due to a helicopter crash.[8][9][10] Wyckoff, being a trustee of the Trust for Public Land, soon after began an effort to identify possible locations for the park.[9]

A $30 million gift from Mary and Jon Shirley established them as foundational donors.[9] As part of constructing the sculpture park, $5.7 million were spent transforming 1,000 feet (300 m) of the seawall and underwater shoreline inside Myrtle Edwards park. A three level underwater slope was built with 50,000 tonnes of riprap. The first level of the slope is large rocks to break up waves. The second is a flat "bench" level to recreate an intertidal zone. The lower level is covered with smaller rocks designed to attract sealife and large kelp. The aim for the recreated strand was to help revitalise juvenile salmon from the Duwamish River and serve as a test site for future efforts.[11]

Community concernsEdit

Prior to construction of the park, some community members expressed concern that the Waterfront Streetcar would be shut down, as plans required demolition of the streetcar's maintenance and storage facility, located on a portion of the building site. Although staff offered to modify the carbarn into a sculpture to fit into the park, the building was demolished and the line shut down in November 2005. The streetcar route, named by National Geographic Society as one of the 10 Great Streetcar routes,[12] had been popular with tourists and locals.

CollectionsEdit

Current sculptureEdit

Former worksEdit

ConservationEdit

Maintenance of the sculptures has been an ongoing challenge. Bordering the Puget Sound, a large body of salt water, the park environment has been corrosive to pieces like Bunyon's Chess, made primarily of exposed wood and metal. Conservation work on Bunyon’s Chess was completed by the museum in 2018.[34]

The museum has a "no-touch" policy to help preserve the art over time.[35] The policy, instituted by Nicholas Dorman, chief conservator for SAM, aims to protect the pieces from damage, including long-term changes caused by oils left by human contact, of particular concern with Wake by Richard Serra.[35] Wake is made from corten steel which has a delicate patina of rust on the surface that contributes a vivid coloration.[35]

Tall painted pieces such as Eagle need to be watched for damage from birds and their waste. Maintenance of these large structures is expensive, requiring scaffolding or boom lifts. The paint on Eagle is also easily damaged by the mechanical clipping of grass near the base of its installation, requiring the gardeners to use scissors instead of a lawn mower near the sculpture.[36] Eagle underwent conservation in 2020, when the museum oversaw a full overhaul of the surface by restoring the steel artwork with fresh primer and new paint while the work was covered over with a large tarp.[37]

Individual worksEdit

The piece Stinger, by artist Tony Smith was created after his death.[38] The work was conceived by the artist in 1967 in a drawing and first constructed as a plywood mock-up in 1968. The painted steel version at the sculpture park was fabricated in 1999, based on the artist’s design, and was donated to the Seattle Art Museum by the artist's estate.[39][40]

When the park opened in 2007, Typewriter Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, was on three-year loan from its owner, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.[41] The park initially prohibited the public from photographing this sculpture,[42] positioned alongside Elliott Avenue, but eventually lifted the prohibition.[43] Typewriter Eraser, Scale X moved to Seattle Center in 2016.[44]

ReceptionEdit

Public receptionEdit

Prior to and during the park’s opening in 2007, the project received positive reviews from many regional and national press sources,[45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53] and the Olympic Sculpture Park has now become an icon for Seattle. Frommer’s guide calls it “the best thing to happen to Seattle in years.”[54]

Each year the Olympic Sculpture Park (free to the public) welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors, according to the Seattle Art Museum’s annual report.[55] In 2018, Artsy named the park one of the “World’s Greatest Sculpture Parks.”[56]

AwardsEdit

 
indoor pavilion at the Olympic Sculpture Park in 2017
 
Olympic Sculpture Park in 2020

The park received the following awards in 2007:

The park received the following awards in 2008:

 
Olympic Sculpture Park sunset over Puget Sound, Paccar Pavilion on right, pier 70 on left

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Seattle Parks Department official site". City of Seattle. 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  2. ^ Sheila Farr, Seattle Times art critic (July 25, 2006). ""There's nothing else like this in the country" for outdoor art, says artist". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-01-22.
  3. ^ "Victoria Haven: Blue Sun". Seattle Art Museum. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Spencer Finch: The Western Mystery". Seattle Art Museum. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Regina Silveira: Octopus Wrap". Seattle Art Museum. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  6. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/arts/design/14shee.html?pagewanted=1&n=Top/News/Business/Companies/Washington%20Mutual%20Inc.&_r=0
  7. ^ Corrin, Lisa Graziose; Gates, Mimi Gardner (2007). Olympic Sculpture Park. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum. pp. 10–12. ISBN 978-0932216571 – via Book.
  8. ^ Regina Hackett (March 29, 2005). "Mimi Gates, Seattle Art Museum's director, doesn't shy away from a challenge". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-11-01.[dead link]
  9. ^ a b c Gardner Gates, Mimi (207). Olympic Sculpture Park. Seattle Art Museum. pp. 10–12, 63. ISBN 3-540-63293-X.
  10. ^ Sheets, Hilarie M. (14 January 2007). "Where Money's No Object, Space Is No Problem". New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  11. ^ Seattle Times Research with the Seattle Art Museum (15 January 2007). "The seawall: Changing the landscape under water". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
  12. ^ "Top 10 Trolley Rides - Travel - National Geographic". Travel. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  13. ^ "Bunyon's Chess". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  14. ^ "Curve XXIV". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  15. ^ "The Eagle". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  16. ^ Gane, Tamara (September 17, 2020). "Looking for art alfresco? Head to these U.S. sculpture gardens — or find one near you". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ "Eye Benches I". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  18. ^ "Eye Benches II". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  19. ^ "Eye Benches III". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  20. ^ "Father and Son". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on February 5, 2016. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  21. ^ "Love & Loss". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  22. ^ "Neukom Vivarium". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  23. ^ "Perre's Ventaglio III". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  24. ^ "Persephone Unbound". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  25. ^ "Schubert Sonata". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  26. ^ "Seattle Cloud Cover". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  27. ^ "Sky Landscape I". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  28. ^ "Split". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  29. ^ "Stinger". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  30. ^ "Untitled". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  31. ^ "Wake". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  32. ^ "Wandering Rocks". Seattle Art Museum. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  33. ^ a b http://old.seattletimes.com/html/sculpturepark/2003518555_sculptureblurbs140.html
  34. ^ Brown, Liz (May 30, 2018). "New Cedar for Bunyon's Chess". Seattle Art Museum Blog. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  35. ^ a b c Regina Hackett, Seattle PI Art Critic (27 January 2007). "Olympic Sculpture Park: It's not a hands-on experience". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-01-27.
  36. ^ Stuart Eskenazi (January 10, 2008). "Art at Sculpture Park is a touchy subject". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  37. ^ Davis, Brangien (July 23, 2020). "Editor's Notebook: 'Eagle' gets a makeover at Olympic Sculpture Park". Crosscut. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  38. ^ Sheila Farr, Seattle Times art critic (24 January 2007). "A critic's-eye view of the new Olympic Sculpture Park". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
  39. ^ Lindsay, Erika (2 May 2005). "SAM Acquires Monumental Work by Tony Smith for the Olympic Sculpture Park, Stinger, 1967-68". Seattle Art Museum press release.
  40. ^ Matthew Marks Gallery (2007). Not an Object, Not a Monument: The Complete Large-Scale Sculpture of Tony Smith. Gottingen: Steidl. p. 92. ISBN 9783865213136.
  41. ^ Percy Allen (6 July 2006). "Allen loans massive "Eraser"". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-01-22.
  42. ^ Graves, Jen (19 January 2007). "The Stranger Arrested". The Stranger. Retrieved 2007-01-22.
  43. ^ Graves, Jen (22 January 2007). "Sculpture Park Hangover". The Stranger. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  44. ^ "Typewriter Eraser Coming in June". City of Seattle. 2 May 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  45. ^ "Olympic Sculpture Park Guide". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  46. ^ Smith, Valerie (September 2006). "Take Back The Site: Valerie Smith on the Olympic Sculpture Park". ArtForum. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
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External linksEdit