• Ideas
  • Feb 14, 2020

Seattle Asian Art Museum Reopens With Strengthened Cross-Cultural Focus

The sandstone facade and metalwork details of the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s Art Deco building, designed by Carl F. Gould in the 1930s, were cleaned and preserved. Photo by Tim Griffith. Copyright Tim Griffith. All images courtesy the respective photographers and Seattle Asian Art Museum.

If, as in many Asian cultures, dragons are a symbol of fortune and good luck, then the reopening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum after a three-year renovation and retrofit by Seattle-based LMN Architects of the 1930s Carl F. Gould-designed Art Deco building boasted an auspicious beginning. A large, one-meter-tall wooden sculpture dated to 14th century China depicting a man swathed in tempestuous, wind-whipped robes—previously thought to be a monk—was discovered to bear an inscription on his back during its time off view. The inscription revealed that the work was instead of a Dragon Tamer Luohan, a disciple of the Buddha and a figure associated with controlling rain, coincidentally apropos of the fact that it rains almost half the year in Seattle.