An outdoor branch of the Seattle Art Museum is a favorite destination for picnics, strolls, and quiet contemplation. Nestled at the edge of Belltown with views of Elliott Bay, the gently sloping green space features native plants and walking paths that wind past bigger-than-life public artwork. On sunny days, the park frames an astounding panorama of the Olympic Mountains, but even the grayest afternoon casts a favorable light on the site's sculptures. The grounds are
home to works by such artists as Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, and Alexander Calder, whose bright-red steel "Eagle" sculpture is a local favorite (and a nod to the bald eagles that sometimes soar above). "Echo," a 46-foot-tall elongated girl’s face by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, is a beautiful and bold presence on the waterfront. The park's PACCAR Pavilion has a gift shop, café, and information about the artworks.
2901 Western Ave., between Broad and Bay Sts., Seattle, Washington, 98121, United States
Oct 29, 2014
My spouse and I visited the Olympic Sculpture Park, which is curated by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), on a Monday afternoon in early August 2014. The park is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. (No entrance gates exist.) The PACCAR Pavilion, a sort of welcome center on the property, contains bathrooms and a small café called Taste that serves coffee, beverages, pastries, and snacks. The Pavilion is open on weekends
only from November through February, and on Tuesday through Sunday from March through October. Unfortunately, we visited on a Monday in August, when the Pavilion closes, so we did not go inside. The Olympic Sculpture Park is located a few blocks (downhill) from the Seattle Center (which contains the Space Needle, the EMP, and Chihuly Gardens and Glass). After a complete stroll through the park, you end on the waterfront promenade on Alaska Way Boulevard near Pier 70. The Olympic Sculpture Park adjoins nearby Myrtle Edwards Park on the waterfront. The park offers one of the only green spaces in downtown Seattle. Parking is available in a garage at the corner of Broad and Western Avenues, or on the street, and bike racks are available as well. The park permits guests to bring pets on leashes. The park was built in 2007 on the site of the former Unocal oil and gas brownfield. Local donors, including some from Microsoft, contributed funds to create the park. The park has won awards for its engineering, design, and environmental impact. The only negative aspect of the park is that the Waterfront Streetcar was shut down because the park claimed its vehicle storage area. The outdoor park spans 9 acres, and offers a winding concrete path that declines in elevation as it travels from Western Avenue to Alaska Way. Most of the park is handicap-accessible using the concrete path / sidewalk; however, you must descend an expansive set of stairs to reach the lower part of the park on the waterfront and beach. Other than using the stairs to travel between the upper and lower parts of the park, it is ADA accessible. The park contains more than sixteen outdoor sculptures by artists including Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, and Richard Serra, among others. The park is home to pieces such as unique benches and tables, a modern version of an “eagle”, a giant eraser, a tall white head, and an aluminum tree. For an in-depth tour of the park and its permanent pieces, see the SAM website for times of the complimentary 60-minute tour. The park is a lovely place to stroll on a beautiful day, where you can enjoy the bay views, green grass, foliage, and contemporary seating areas. In addition, the best part: admission is free!