Tacoma Art Museum: making history

Tacoma Art Museum's Making HistoryOn November 15, 2014, Tacoma, Washington, will be abuzz as Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) reaches the culmination of a four-year journey including an expansion and gift of one of the top Western American art collections in the country. The museum’s “Go West” adventure began with a conversation between Director Stephanie Stebich and John Barline, a representative for Erivan and Helga Haub, who donated 295 works from their family’s Western American art collection to TAM. Today, the museum stands transformed with 16,000 dazzling new square feet and four spacious galleries showcasing this internationally recognized collection, most of which has never before been on public view. Join TAM on November 15 for the Go West Grand Opening, and be one of the first to experience all that is new at the museum; doors open at 9:30 am.

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 am on November 15 marks the opening of the doors to the new galleries and the inaugural exhibition, featuring more than 130 works of Western American art. Along with traditional horses and cowboys there are many surprises: dynamic bronze sculptures, alluring landscapes, superb portraits and delightful pop-art takes on the American West. The art and architecture connect the history of the West with today’s Tacoma. Designed by Olson Kundig Architects in Seattle, this is Tom Kundig’s first completed museum design, and was completed on time and on budget by Sellen Construction.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland commented on this significant addition to the city’s robust Museum District and its relationship to economic growth. “The Haub collection and the new expansion of the Tacoma Art Museum exemplify the ongoing revitalization of our downtown core as a destination. TAM has raised our city’s national profile as a leader in the arts.” TAM’s visitation is expected to rise 20% with the expansion, bringing local, regional, and out-of-area visitors to Tacoma’s downtown.

If you were among the hundreds of community members who donated a blanket to Marie Watt’s sculpture, Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek, opening day will be your chance to see the final work. Two tall, curving towers of stacked blankets, cast in bronze and finished in a color Watt calls “Safety Blue,” will be installed at the southern end of the Haub Family Galleries along Pacific Avenue. As you approach the museum on opening day you will also notice the 35-foot-tall entry canopy and red-lined entry doors. On the parking level, Julie Speidel’s red, blue, and silver sculptural installation Kinetic Repose marks a well-lit glass-enclosed entry vestibule. The outdoor sculptures and the architectural design result in a stronger connection between the museum and surrounding environment, supporting TAM’s mission of connecting people through art.


What can you do at the opening day celebrations? First, witness the 10:00 am dedication ceremony with a blessing by the Puyallup Canoe Family; remarks from Stebich, the Haub family, and Congressman Derek Kilmer; and the much-anticipated ribbon-cutting. Foss High School Band will add to the fanfare. Then be among the first to stroll through the brand new Haub Family Galleries. Live music continues throughout the day. Check TAM’s new website for a full schedule of events, www.TacomaArtMusem.org.