Monday, April 07, 2008

TAM: Tacoma Art Museum's Fifth Anniversary in New Antoine-Predock Designed Building

The following press release contains a good, brief history of Tacoma Art Museum that I am sure you will all appreciate. 


Heide Fernandez-Llamazares

Museum Educator and Docent Coordinator



1701 Pacific Avenue

Tacoma, Washington 98402

T: 253.272.4258 x3018

F: 253.627.1898

Become a Member Today!


From: Alyssa Rosso []
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 4:39 PM
Subject: [TacomaArt] Tacoma Art Museum's Fifth Anniversary in New Antoine-Predock Designed Building


1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402



April 3, 2008

Media Contact: Alyssa Rosso, Public Relations Coordinator, 253.272.4258 x3002,


Tacoma Art Museum Celebrates Fifth Anniversary of New Building
FREE Community Celebration Marks Event

Saturday, May 3
12 – 5 pm


(Tacoma, WA) – Tacoma Art Museum marks the fifth anniversary at its new location on 1701 Pacific Avenue on Saturday, May 3, 2008, with a Free Community Festival from 12 to 5 pm. The five-hour party takes place exactly five years after the inaugural twenty-four-hour party on May 3, 2003, which celebrated the museum’s first custom-designed home since 1935.

The museum will offer free museum admission to all visitors all day on May 3 for the Building Birthday Bash. Many of the same performers from the twenty-four-hour party will return to the museum, including Stadium High School Jazz Band and Philippine American Youth Organization (PAYO). Other events and activities include 100 cupcakes distributed every hour, a display of artist-created birthday cakes, hands-on art projects, a slideshow featuring community birthday photos collected through Tacoma Art Museum’s group on, and music by DJ Pana.

“This museum has been a part of the community for almost seventy-five years, and in these last five years, we’ve been able to reap the benefits that come with a building that was designed to be a showcase for art, such as hosting important traveling exhibitions and featuring more of the works from our collection, as well as hosting parties such as the one we’ll have here on May 3,” said Stephanie Stebich, Director of Tacoma Art Museum. “This celebration is our way of reflecting on the successes we’ve had at our new location and thanking Tacoma for its growing support of the museum and our mission of connecting people through art.”

Visitors are invited to share in the success of the festival by creating a non-edible birthday art cake for display. Advance registration is free, but required. Deadline for registering is Friday, April 18. Guidelines and an application are available online at The museum is also collecting birthday snapshots for a community slideshow. More information can be found online at

To help celebrate the occasion, Tacoma Art Museum will charge $5 admission on Sunday, May 4. The two neighboring museums in Tacoma’s Museum District, Washington State History Museum and Museum of Glass, will also charge $5 admission to visitors all weekend.

History of Tacoma Art Museum’s Locations

Tacoma Art Museum has occupied five locations in its nearly seventy-five year history. The museum first started as Tacoma Art Association in 1935 and was located at Jones Hall at College of Puget Sound (now University of Puget Sound) until 1958. In 1946, TAA merged with the Art Guild of Tacoma and formed the Tacoma Art League. The league held exhibitions at the Washington State Historical Museum near Stadium High School in 1947 and 1948 before returning to Jones Hall as part of the College of Puget Sound’s art department.

The TAL moved to a storefront on 742 Broadway in 1958 and was located between a state liquor store and a Christian Bookstore. The black walls in the gallery led to the nickname, “The Black Hole.” During the five years at this location, membership and public interest decreased. In 1963, the TAL reincorporated to become Tacoma Art Museum and moved to 621 Pacific Avenue in the Allied Arts Center. At this point, the museum began to collect work for the permanent collection. In 1968, the museum had an exhibition featuring avant-garde paintings by Northwest artists, including a young Tacoma glass artist named Dale Chihuly. It was his first museum show and set the foundation for the museum’s strong relationship with him into the present.

In 1971, Tacoma Art Museum moved to 1123 Pacific Avenue after Mr. and Mrs. L.T. Murray, Sr. donated the National Bank of Washington headquarters. Track lighting and white pile carpet on the walls were considered state-of-the-art at the time. In the more than thirty years at this location, Tacoma Art Museum solidified its reputation as a valued Northwest institution, expanded its educational programs, added significant works to the collection, and began organizing major exhibitions such as the Northwest Biennial.
                In 2003 Tacoma Art Museum moved to its current and permanent location at
1701 Pacific Avenue, next to the recently renovated Union Station and the two new museums: Washington State History Museum and Museum of Glass. Architect Antoine Predock, who has since received the 2006 Gold Medal from American Institute of Architects (the AIA’s highest honor), designed the building to blend into its surroundings. Predock saw in Tacoma’s misty, muted light a great opportunity to design a building that almost disappears, much like Mount Rainier fades and appears depending on the light and weather. The building’s stainless steel skin pays homage to its industrial, port city surroundings as its silver patina glistens in the Northwest’s watery light.


Tacoma Art Museum connects people and builds community through art. The museum serves the diverse communities of the region through its collection, exhibitions, and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest. The museum’s five galleries display an array of major national shows, the best of Northwest art, creatively themed exhibitions, and historical retrospectives. In addition, there is an Education Wing for children, adults, and seniors with an art resource center, classroom, and studio for art making. Tacoma Art Museum is located in Tacoma’s Museum District, near the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, and historic Union Station.

# # #


HOURS – Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Thursday 10 am – 8 pm, Sunday 12 – 5 pm. Open Mondays Memorial Day through Labor Day.

ADMISSION – Adult $7.50, Student/Military/Senior (65+) $6.50, Family $25 (2 adults and up to 4 children under 18). Children 5 & under free. Third Thursdays free. Members always free.

CONTACT – 253.272.4258,,

Tacoma Art Museum History

1935 – Present


Jones Hall, College of Puget Sound


The institution that became Tacoma Art Museum was first incorporated in 1935 as Tacoma Art Association. The association first met as the “Ida Cochran Group.” Cochran had been head of the art department of the College of Puget Sound, and an informal group formed to create a fine art museum in Tacoma in her memory.


Throughout the first decades of its existence, TAA was nurtured and encouraged by the College of Puget Sound, now the University of Puget Sound. Dr. Edward Todd, the college’s president until 1942, and his successor, Dr. R. Franklin Thompson, the college’s president from 1942 to1973, were unflagging supporters of TAA. Both presidents allowed the association rent-free galleries in third-floor rooms of the campanile of Jones Hall: The Tower, Dr. and Mrs. Thompson were gracious hosts of the galleries and advocates for TAA.


In May 1946, TAA merged with the Art Guild of Tacoma, a group promoting local artists, and formed the Tacoma Art League. In 1947 and 1948, most of the TAL exhibitions were held at the Washington State Historical Museum near Stadium High School. TAL returned to the galleries of Jones Hall in 1948 and functioned as part of the College of Puget Sound art department until 1958.



“The Black Hole” at 742 Broadway


In 1958 Tacoma Art League (TAL) leased a storefront at 742 Broadway, located between a state liquor store and a Christian bookstore. After twenty-three years on the campus of the College of Puget Sound, TAL decided that more exhibition space was essential to the growth of the organization. Because the walls of the galleries were painted black, this location became known as “The Black Hole.” >From 1958 to 1963, membership decreased and public interest in the exhibitions waned.


Goodwin Chase, who became president and director of the National Bank of Washington, saved TAL through his dedication and connections. The “Chase Caucus” first met in autumn of 1957 to pilot TAL’s future. At the caucus’s first meeting, Chase secured the commitments of Tacoma’s leading citizens to create a viable and energetic museum for Tacoma. The attendees at this meeting remained lifelong supporters of the institution: Dr. and Mrs. Lester Baskin, Mr. and Mrs. Chauncey Griggs, Colonel and Mrs. Albert Hooker, Alan Liddle, Mr. and Mrs. Hilding Lindberg, Dr. and Mrs. John Moore, Mr. and Mrs. L.T. Murray, Sr., Mrs. Elizabeth Titcomb, Mr. and Mrs. Corydon Wagner, and Mr. and Mrs. C. Davis Weyerhaeuser.



“The Old Jailhouse” at 621 Pacific


By 1963, the Tacoma Art League reincorporated to become Tacoma Art Museum. In December, the museum moved into new galleries and offices in the Allied Arts Center, known as the “Old Jailhouse” at 621 Pacific. Buoyed by congratulations from prestigious museums from across the country, Tacoma Art Museum emerged as a professional museum, bringing together educational programming, outstanding exhibitions, and elegant social affairs more prominently than at any time in its past. One of its most important new functions was the beginning of a concerted effort to acquire works of art to build a permanent collection.


During the course of the first few years in its new galleries, Tacoma Art Museum experienced mild growing pains, stabilized by the leadership of Tacoma artist and University of Puget Sound professor Bill Colby. The museum made modest gains over these years with membership and funding steadily increasing. Also, the scope of museum projects broadened to include daring exhibitions such as the 1968 showing of avant-garde paintings by Northwest artists, including a work by the young Tacoma glass artist Dale Chihuly.


Due to the dedication and diligence of the museum’s board members, staff, and volunteers, the museum gained success. Its programs and exhibitions attracted strong local support, and within a few years, the museum was in need of additional space.



National Bank Building at 1123 Pacific


In 1970, Mr. and Mrs. L.T. Murray, Sr., donated the former National Bank of Washington headquarters as the museum’s next home. The building was refitted to house exhibition galleries, a library, collections storage, and a children’s gallery. On May 25, 1971, the museum opened in its own building at 1123 Pacific Avenue.


The new building more than doubled the museum’s exhibition and education spaces. All of the new galleries were declared “state of the art.” The galleries incorporated sophisticated track lighting, and the walls were covered in white pile carpet, a trendy element in museum design in 1971. Tacoma Art Museum also developed the Early American Room and the Sarah Little Design Center. Facilitated in part by the expanded exhibition space, Tacoma Art Museum also created temporary exhibitions of works from its rapidly growing permanent collection: long-term hangings of masterpieces from the permanent collection, highlights of new acquisitions, and thematic exhibitions.


During its three decades at this location, Tacoma Art Museum solidified its reputation as an important Northwest institution. In 1990, Between Spring and Summer: Soviet Conceptual Art in the Era of Late Communism became the first nationally recognized exhibition the museum ever had on view and helped establish the curatorial integrity of the institution. It inaugurated the Northwest Biennial exhibitions in 1991, and the Twelfth Street Series – a solo exhibition featuring a mid-career artist – in 1992. In 1990, Dale Chihuly gifted nearly thirty-five works for a permanent installation that highlights important developments in his career.



The Predock Building at 1701 Pacific Ave.

2003 and into the future

By the early 1980s, it had become obvious that Tacoma Art Museum required a new facility to sustain desired institutional growth. In 1997, Tacoma Art Museum launched a capital campaign to fund a new museum building, which would be located at the corner of Pacific and Hood Streets. This location was next to the recently renovated Union Station and the seven-year-old University of Washington Tacoma campus. It was also down the street from the new Washington State History Museum, which opened that same year.


The capital campaign of $27 million (including $5 million for an endowment) was spearheaded by a volunteer committee drawing from corporate supporters, art patrons, and the general public. This committee was able to garner exceptionally broad support from more than 1,800 donors, and completed the $27 million campaign in 2004. Major donors included Bill and Bobby Street, Sophie and Leslie Sussman, Jane and George Russell, Columbia Bank, Bank of America, The Boeing Company, Weyerhaeuser, and hundreds of others.


Architect Antoine Predock, 2006 recipient of American Institute of Architects’ highest honor, the Gold Medal, designed the building to blend into its surroundings. The elegant new museum elevated Tacoma Art Museum to a new level, transforming the institution from a regional museum to a national model for other mid-sized museums. Concurrent with the Capital Campaign, more than 275 works of art were added to the collection in honor of the expansion.


The new building opened on May 3, 2003 with a twenty-four hour celebration. Increased gallery space made it possible to present selections from the museum’s collection with more regularity. Tacoma Art Museum now had a home that was designed to be a museum, rather than a space converted to meet its needs. Great care was taken in the design to provide flexible exhibition spaces to present all artwork in the galleries to their best advantage. The education wing offered a dedicated space for the museum’s educational programming to expand and flourish. 


Today, the museum presents world-class exhibitions, some organized in-house using works from the collection. Nationally traveling exhibitions frequently count Tacoma Art Museum as their exclusive West-Coast venue.



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