FEBRUARY 10, 1997
New face for the Frye
by Deborah Stone
After nearly two years and a $12 million renovation, the Frye Art Museum has reopened its doors to the public. The classy newly-expanded museum, designed by the award-winning Olson Sundberg Architects of Seattle, features an auditorium, education wing, gift shop, and cafe, in addition to remodeled galleries.
Visitors are greeted by a new entrance portico paralleled by a reflecting pool with waterfall. A stunning rotunda with an off-center skylight provides natural light and a visual orientation to the galleries. Whereas the old museum was built more like a fortress, the new building is very modern and open in design. According to principle architect, Rick Sundberg, the aim of the architecture was to bring the museum to the sidewalk, allowing people from the outside to be able to view the activity inside.
The hope is to attract people to visit the museum who have never come before, as well as re-welcome past visitors with a new inviting image. Natural daylight is used to guide visitors through the galleries and sifts down into the rooms through specially designed skylights which do not harm the art. An outdoor garden courtyard, a sort of urban park, provides a place for visitors to relax and enjoy food from the adjacent Gallery Cafe. Art education workshops will be offered for children and adults in drawing, painting, and ceramics, in the spacious airy second-floor studio. In the 142-seat auditorium, a series of lectures, concerts, films, and poetry readings are planned throughout the year.
The museum has a large 19th-century European art collection, with many German painters represented, that was amassed by the Fryes when they were alive. In addition, a special installation featuring the works of three generations of the Wyeth family will be on view through March 23rd, as well as paintings by contemporary realist Odd Nerdrum of Norway.
The Frye is located on Terry Ave. at the top of First Hill in Seattle and is open Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call 622-9250.