TAM announces exhibit highlights for new museum

Amid the sounds of ongoing construction, Tacoma Art Museum officials last Thursday announced exhibit highlights that will fill the museum’s new home when it opens in May of next year.

Visitors to the new museum, located at 1701 Pacific Ave., will experience art with a Northwest feel through new work, a historical retrospective and recent gifts to the Tacoma Art Museum.

“We’re very excited about what we’ve got going on here over the next year,” said Courtenay Chamberlin, the museum’s manager of marketing and public relations.

Associate Curator Rock Hushka discussed “Building Tradition: Gifts in Honor of the Northwest Collection,” an exhibition showcasing gifts given to the museum by regional artists.

The two-part yearlong exhibition, to be located in the Bill and Bobby Street Gallery of Northwest Art, will feature works from the 1890s to the present – all by Northwest artists, Hushka said.

More than half of the Tacoma Art Museum’s permanent collection of about 2,500 works are by Northwest artists.

The “Building Tradition” exhibition will add up to 75 works from Northwest artists, including works by Fay Jones, Mark Takamichi Miller, Mary Randlett and Carl Morris.

Curator Laura Landau announced “Northwest Mythology: The Interactions of Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan and Guy Anderson,” which will be located in the Weyerhaeuser Family and Jane and George Russell Galleries.

These four artists, known as the founding fathers of the region’s art, stayed in contact with one another and sometimes worked together from 1930 to 1954.

The exhibition probes this significant period in the history of Northwest art and includes letters, annotated books and photographs.

“Northwest Mythology is to include 120 objects – public and privately-owned – for museum visitors to see, Landau said.

“We’re hoping to include less exhibited items or works that have never been exhibited in the Pacific Northwest,” she said.

“Northwest Mythology” will coincide with the 50th anniversary of a Life magazine article, “Mystic Painters of the Northwest,” which for the first time brought national attention to Northwest art.

The new Tacoma Art Museum will also feature work by noted Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly, whose work was first exhibited at the museum in 1968.

The museum’s Chihuly collection is the world’s largest comprehensive collection of the artist’s early work, and is the only permanent collection on display at the Tacoma Art Museum.

The new museum is to feature a new, site-specific sculptural work by the internationally renowned Chihuly.

Greg Bell, curator of contemporary art, said the museum asked Chihuly to design a piece specifically for the new building, to be located in the Annette B. Weyerhaeuser Gallery.

“He’s (Chihuly) all about dealing with a site,” said Joanna Sikes of Chihuly Studios.

Studio glass work is still in its infancy, she said, and its starting here in Tacoma.

“Something really special is going to happen in this museum next year,” she said.

“For our grand opening, we’ve paid special attention to the symbolic link between all of the exhibits – the permanent display of Tacoma Art Museum’s Chihuly collection, the new Chihuly installation and the accompanying Northwest exhibits,” said Janeanne Upp, the museum’s executive director. “The architecture of the new space allows us to make that connection in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past.”

The new building itself could be viewed as a work of art.

Located adjacent to Union Station and the Washington State History Museum and across from the University of Washington Tacoma campus, the 50,000-square-foot building will have a stainless steel glass exterior allowing visitors a sweeping view of the Northwest skyline.

Inside, the new galleries will be connected by a ramp that allows visitors to gradually move from street level to the building’s upper floors.

Entering the new building, visitors will first encounter the “Building Tradition” exhibition, and next, the “Northwest Mythology” exhibit.

Chihuly’s new work celebrating the new space and new museum will be housed in the building’s main gallery.

The galleries will wrap around the Mist Moss Garden, which is enclosed in mirrored glass, providing a spectacular view due to natural light from carefully placed windows.

With approximately 12,000 square feet of exhibition space, the new museum will provide nearly double the Tacoma Art Museum’s existing art-viewing area.

Other features of the new building include an Education Wing for children, adults and seniors with a studio; a resource center and ArtWORKS for art making; as well as an event space; expanded museum store; and a cafe.

Plans call for the new building’s main gallery construction to be completed this summer, with building construction finished in the fall.

Systems will be checked, the museum’s art collection moved and exhibitions installed in winter.

The new Tacoma Art Museum’s grand opening is set for May 3, 2003.

“It is a big day for us,” Upp said.




Location: 1701 Pacific Ave.

Description: 50,000 square feet, five galleries, education wing, event space, museum store, cafe and 125 parking spaces

Grand opening date: May 3, 2003

Architect: Antoine Predock designed the building. Seattle-based Olsen Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects is the executive architect.

Contractor: Hoffman Construction Co., Seattle

Web: www.TacomaArtMuseum.org