In May 2003, Tacoma Art Museum
opened a new facility twice the size of its previous home, allowing the museum to expand on its vision and mission. American Institute of Architects AIA Gold Medal
winner Antoine Predock
designed the building located in the heart of Tacoma’s Cultural District. It features flexible exhibition space in a series of galleries that wrap around an open-air stone courtyard. The galleries showcase Tacoma Art Museum’s permanent collection of American, European, and Asian art, highlighting Northwest artists; and traveling national and international exhibitions. The interior reflects the museum’s spirit, from the emphasis on education spaces that are designed to make art accessible to the framed views of Mt. Rainier
's growing core.
Founded in November 1935
as the Tacoma Art Association, the museum has since moved to five separate locations: the Jones Hall Tower at the University of Puget Sound
, 742 Broadway, a former jailhouse at 621 Pacific Avenue, a vacant Bank of Washington building at 1123 Pacific Avenue, and now 1701 Pacific Avenue. The museum was founded and run by volunteers until the 1970s
, and it still receives outstanding community support today.
Tacoma Art Museum has more than 3,000 pieces in its collection, two-thirds of which are classified as Northwest art. Since 1935
, Tacoma Art Museum has built a permanent collection that includes work from world-renowned artists such as Mary Cassatt
, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
, Edgar Degas
, Robert Henri
, Edward Hopper
, Robert Rauschenberg
, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
, John Singer Sargent
, and Andrew Wyeth
Nearly seventy percent of the collection consists of works from Northwest artists such as Morris Graves, Jacob Lawrence, Joseph Park, Barbara Earl Thomas, and Patti Warashina.
The museum is proud to have the premier collection of Dale Chihuly’s work (dating 1977 to present) on public long-term display. He held his first museum exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum in 1968.
World-renowned Albuquerque, New Mexico
, architect Antoine Predock
saw in Tacoma
’s misty and muted light a great opportunity to design a building. Using the soft light of the Pacific Northwest
, the building reflects the surrounding industrial facilities, Mt. Rainier
, and the neighboring museums that now mark Tacoma’s Cultural District.
The museum’s galleries – 12,000 square feet in all – are large and well lit, and flexibility is provided through the design of a family of interconnected galleries and movable walls. Modern storage systems, a covered loading dock, and facilities for art handling and prep work ensure that the art is protected. The museum’s permanent collection is one of the premier collections of Northwest artists’ work and includes the consummate public collection of Dale Chihuly’s work on permanent display.
The open-air interior stone wave is encased in mirrored stainless steel and reflective glass. Designed by Richard Rhodes of Rhodes Architectural Stone, in concert with building architect Antoine Predock, Rhodes designed the wave to be a visually simple space for visitors to rest their eyes between viewing the art in each gallery. The sculptural space also brings life to the center of the building.
In all its visual simplicity, the design of the wave itself is complex, made of ancient stone pavers washing toward one wall. The shape unfolds to reveal new perspectives as the visitor travels the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation Walkway around the space to visit each of the five galleries.
Predock, who was inspired by the water and quality of light in Tacoma, envisioned a space “with an element of the Northwest, very quiet and contemplative.” Rhodes brings this vision to life by introducing the element of water and creating a sense of movement with a rigid material. “It is exciting to shape a hard, organic material so that it appears liquid – to manipulate the visual experience so that the pavements appear to wash against the glass,” notes Rhodes.
Visiting Tacoma Art Museum
From Interstate 5
either North or South, take exit #133 and follow the signs toward the City Center. Exit at the 21st Street off-ramp. Turn left onto 21st Street, and then right on Pacific Avenue. The museum is located on the right past the Washington State History Museum
and Union Station. If you wish to park at the museum, turn right on Hood Street, just past the museum. The museum will be on your right. Then take the first right into the museum’s pay parking lot. Park in the numbered pay-parking stalls. There are stairs and elevators from this area into the museum.
Connecting people through art. Tacoma Art Museum serves the diverse communities of the Northwest through its collection, exhibitions and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest.