Seattle Art Museum Receives Collections Valued at $1 Billion

The Seattle Art Museum has received nearly one thousand pieces of art in anticipation of the reopening of the renovated and expanded facility, the Seattle Times reports.

Some of the donations, such as the Virginia and Bagley Wright collection of post-World War II and contemporary art, which includes major works by Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Anselm Kiefer, Helen Frankenthaler, and Donald Judd, had long been promised. Others, however, were a surprise, including one hundred pieces from the collection of former SAM trustee Marshall Hatch, who had promised his extensive collection of Northwest art to the Museum of Northwest Art. Also unexpected were the sixty-five items from the American modernist collection of Barney Ebsworth. "With the expansion, now there is space," Ebsworth said, explaining his decision.

The donated pieces complement the museum's collections of Native American, African, Asian, Australian aboriginal, contemporary, and modernist works. While SAM has not revealed the value of its holdings, Marc Porter, president of Christie's New York, estimated their value at $1 billion in today's art market.

About two hundred of the recently acquired artworks will be displayed when the museum's new downtown expansion opens next month. Regarding the broad scope of the donated collections, museum director Mimi Gates said, "We stand out for the global connections of our collection. Given the world we live in today, it's a very exciting strength to have."

Sheila Farr. "Seattle Art Museum Gets $1 Billion Infusion of Art." Seattle Times 03/30/2007.