Seattle Art Museum Programs
SAM’s goal is to make great art accessible to everyone in our community. The Olympic Sculpture Park is free and the other sites have a 'pay what you can' policy for viewing the museum’s permanent collection galleries. SAM’s three sites are alive with programming including music, art activities, films, lectures and performances, making them places where people of all ages come to learn, play and be inspired by art.
SAM's Teen Programs provide quality arts programs for our region’s youth that build artistic as well as communication and leadership skills. Through programs such as Teen Night Out, Teen Workshops and Teen Arts Group, young people work with local artists to create art, express their ideas in discussions, and develop programs for their peers. SAM works with community organizations, social service agencies and teachers to involve teens from underserved communities.
SAM’s K-12 education program provides significant resources to schools to help integrate arts education into classroom learning, including a free lending library, online lesson plans, professional development for educators, art-making workshops, and school tours. We also send teaching artists out into the schools to lead creative workshops. SAM offers discounts and bus subsidization to economically disadvantaged schools. About 24,000 students benefit annually from SAM’s K-12 program.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Currently on view downtown is Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London, a superb collection of Old Master paintings including Rembrandt’s Portrait of the Artist (ca. 1665) which has never left Europe before.
The museum’s fall 2012 special exhibition, Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris told the story of modern and contemporary art solely through works by women artists. SAM responded by reinstalling its own modern and contemporary galleries with works by women artists. Elles incited the entire city to join in the conversation through related programming and events.
Many Arrows from Rama’s Bow: Paintings of the Ramayana introduced Seattle audiences to one of the world’s most captivating stories—one that has inspired artists in India for more than 1,500 years.
This past year was a financially challenging one for SAM. As one of our city’s largest cultural institutions with three separate sites and significant fixed costs, the museum must secure a substantial portion of its budget from contributed revenue every year. Only 38% of the museum’s operating budget is supported by earned revenue such as Membership and Admission. We ended our last fiscal year with a deficit of $712,000, which we funded using reserves accumulated through 2010’s highly successful Picasso exhibition. SAM needs contributions to its Annual Fund, which supports all that we do—exhibitions, programs, school services, and conservation.