The Seattle Asian Art Museum

               After visiting the Seattle Art Museum with Dad yesterday we decided today to go to the Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park. We love visiting Volunteer Park and the Conservatory but hadn’t gone into the Asian Art museum together since I was a small child. The grounds are so well cared for. Everything is just starting to bloom. 

Andromeda native plant species 

Mated pair of Mallard Ducks

            The admissions woman had told us if we brought our ticket from SAM we would have free admission (within the week) to go to the Seattle Asian Art Museum. I am so glad we decided to do this together today! 

      On a windy Saturday in March, I couldn’t think of anything better to do than peruse a museum. At first I thought it was strange to put all of the Asian artists in a different museum. But when you go you quickly realize they needed a whole building to house the Asian masterpieces. What an enormous collection of permanent works! Plus they where showing some really spectacular exhibitions from Korea.   

        The center rooms seemed to be dedicated to India, specifically to Hinduism and Buddhism. They showcase statues in this space with chairs and tables so one could sit for awhile. 

       This display I found particularly interesting. I felt as if each piece complimented one another like they where meant to be on that wall or in the same place in time. The room seemed to be built for this display. I would have loved to sit and draw this. Perhaps I will use this photograph as inspiration later.

         My husband has traveled to India and once he told me about the Ganesh (Ganesa). It is one of the great deities in Hinduism that promotes fortune and good luck. There is a holiday in India every year when every family has built a statue of the Ganesh that is then thrown into the water to bring prosperity in the coming year. My husband saw this in India when he traveled there and said it was a wild sight to be seen.  

        This sandstone Ganesh was made in India in approximately the 19th century.
There is a sign on the wall that tells the mythological story of the Ganesh. It is said that Ganseh is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Apparently Parvati created Ganesh with the intention to guard Shivah which angered Shivah so she chopped the sons head off. Which angered Parvati who then pleaded with Shivah to correct matters. So she replaced the head with an elephant head. Very interesting. 

Here is Mahavira the founder of Jainism. A contemporary take on the historical Buddhism. You can tell it is Mahavira vs Buddah because he is naked and has the srivatsa in the middle of his chest. Often shown with the lion. 

Next we viewed this amazing exhibit from Korean artist Lee Yongbaek. He is an innovative artists who uses sounds and media in the room to create a full experience. Note on the wall above these costume pieces the projector. The image above is actually a still image of a movie screen.

          These printed textiles are obviously military costumes from Korea. They have been printed with bright floral grafics. I find this interesting because florals are also in fashion this spring. We had a lot of florals at the Seattle Art Museum yesterday as well.

This is another still of the video screen in Lee Youngbaek’s exhibit. At first it looks just like a mirror, but as you look for longer it’s suddenly shutters with and ear splitting sound. It then restarts to symbolize rebirth and continuance.

There was another very interesting Korean artist in the next room. Using photography Jung Yeondoo made people’s dreams come true. He would take a photograph of the person in their everyday life and then a second in a fantasy scenario in the same position as the first photograph. 

 Here is just one example. You will need to go to the museum to see the rest. 
This man surrounded by computer screens, in a wheelchair.

And then

  Surrounded by friends playing a card game. 
Very thought provoking.

Next are some “lamps?” 

By Yang Haegue an artist from Berlin and Seoul. She uses found daily objects and industrial materials to create though provoking masterpieces. To me it almost seemed like everyday art, Art in motion, art in the found, small things in life. 

These “lamps?” are on temporary loan from the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea. They have names like Female Natives: No. 2 Possessed Hillbilly, Female Natives: No. 6 Fruitful Glow, and Female Natives: No. 5 Maturing. They where all done in 2010 in what was I’m sure a creative whirlwind! 

Moving on to this Jade.

  Shattered Asian Pottery

  The entrance to the next rooms.  

               This showcase was about unearthing a Buddhist tomb called Mogao Cave, where they found all these manuscripts and artifacts. Dating back to the Western Wei dynasty these strong calligraphy images where deep with history. The energy in the room was quiet and somber. I didn’t take too many photos as I felt I was disturbing the other viewers.  

 Animals in landscape

Ink and Color on paper. 

Indigo I’m sure.

The panoramic of the room

Two Bodhisattvas. 

         I stared at this piece for quite some time before I decided to take my phone out and take a photograph. One of the museum patrons got upset with me so I put my camera back away. I don’t like to upset anyone but I think she was offended somehow. I asked the museum attendant in the next room if photography was allowed and she said “Of course just no flash.” I’m glad I asked. Every museum has it’s own rules! 

                I overheard someone mentioning that these colored vases where actually dipped in industrial paint in order to avoid being smashed by fascist tyrants. Has anyone else heard of such a thing? I thought they where quite striking. I loved how they are displayed. To me the yellow and white was the odd one out and the center of attention.

       Here are some more traditional  Chinese vessels from deeper in the museum. Did you know that the Chinese introduced the use of cobalt on white. This quickly spread around the world and inspired artists in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and more. Do you like twall or other blue and white patterns? The Chinese started that.

The Ming and Qing Dynasties from 1368-1912 was know as the dynasty of imperial elegance. Elegant is a great word to discribe these intricate vessels. 

Bamboo and hive form used for funeral rights

Astonishing! The contrast on this huge vase is quite breathtaking. I can only imagine the time and steady hand it took to hand paint this intricate design. 


Snuff bottles. 

What is snuff you might ask? Finely ground tobacco that was traditionally snorted for medicinal reasons. Sometimes it was mixed with mint, camphor, and jasmine. These tiny little jars quickly became trendy with the wealthy and the elite. You can see a wide range of materials used from Jade to crystal and unique glass methods involving painting the inside of the tiny bottle. 


Beautiful silk robe with traditional lotus embroidery. 


We worked up quite the appetite at the museum. After walking all over the park we decided to drive back to Capitol Hill and eat at the newly reopened “Charlie’s.” Charlie’s is a classic Seattle restaurant on Broadway. Last year it closed but was quickly remodeled and reopened. It is a family favorite in my family so we just had to go. I wanted to order the same as dad, blackened chicken fettuccine Alfredo, but he said to be different. So I ordered this burger with bacon and cheddar cheese. Mmmmm.


I hope you enjoyed this post about our day at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. It was a special treat to have a few days with my dad. I love you dad, thank you for spending the day with me. 

-Dominique Barrentine 



Author: dominiquebarrentine

I am a twenty four year old woman, Christian, survivor, teacher and artist. I recently finished writing my first book, "Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday," a memoir of my life and I started a blog My book is in the editing phase but I hope to have it done before my birthday in November. I love to paint, draw, sing, dance, and all sorts of other things. Check out my blog to learn more...

2 thoughts on “The Seattle Asian Art Museum”

  1. I have two daughters. My favorite memories are our dad daughter days. At holidays when they ask what I want for gifts I always have the same answer: more time with them. Thank you for sharing your dad daughter day and I’m sure you both know how blessed you to have such time!

    Liked by 1 person

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