Tacoma Art Museum Unfolds a New Wing this Month

Design by Seattle-based architecture firm features local landscape
FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

With a grand opening this month, Tacoma Art Museum’s new wing embodies the West in ways both historic and current. First, there’s the building itself, designed by Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects—a firm that has helped define the contemporary look of the region via sleek buildings that reflect the local landscape and “Scandinasian” design. The expansion stretches down Pacific Avenue, doubling the museum’s exhibit space, a long rectangle intended to echo the shape of Native American longhouses and railroad cars, both of which play crucial roles in Tacoma’s history. Clad in Richlite, a locally manufactured, sustainable composite of paper and resin, the building’s exterior also features a hand-cranked system of slatted window screens to regulate heat and protect art from the sun. Inside, light pours in; one window frames Mount Rainier as if it were a painting. The artwork that this 16,000-square-foot space will house sustains the theme: the Haub Family Collection of American Western Art, composed of 295 masterworks depicting the people and places of the region, created between the 1790s and present day, and including work by Georgia O’Keeffe and Albert Bierstadt. This new acquisition qualifies TAM as the only museum in the Pacific Northwest with a comprehensive and high-caliber display of art focused on the American West. To visit is to embrace and enhance your sense of place. Grand-opening festivities: 11/15. 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Prices vary. Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave.; 253.272.4258; tacomaartmuseum.org