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Seattle Art Museum Wants Families to GET OUT! (to the Sculpture Park)

Summer at SAM photo by Robert Wade

Many parents of young children cringe at the thought of a day at the art museum; inside voices, no touching, no snacks inside the galleries. Although Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has taken steps to make art accessible to young audiences, like free admission for children under 12, booklets outlining kid-friendly highlights of the museum, and the Art Ladder, this summer they really want families to GET OUT!


Get out to the Olympic Sculpture Park, that is. One of three SAM facilities, the sculpture park really is a park, and summer is an ideal time for kids out to experience larger-than-life artworks while running around, eating snacks, and making all the noise they want (but still no touching the art, please). From the giant rubber eraser to the living nurse-log in the greenhouse, the art itself has special appeal for kids. SAM is adding temporary installations for the summer, so there will something new to see even for regular visitors.

Part of the Summer at SAM program, GET OUT! kicks off on July 12 with special programs for adults and kids all summer long. Activities begin every Thursday night at 5:30 and continue as late at 9:00. Each week will feature live music until 7:30, with emphasis on jazz and world music (plus Seapony on July 19, if indie-pop is more your style). Fifteen minute “Art Hit” tours at 6:30 are perfect for childish attention spans. Local artists will be on hand to lead art activities for visitors of all ages who would rather have a more hands on artistic experience. And for the truly free spirits, drawing materials will be on hand for self-directed sketching.

Kids make art at PACCAR Pavilion photo by Robert Wade

Sketching activities with local artists (11:00-1:00) and materials for free sketching (10:00-3:00) are also available on Saturdays. Older kids may enjoy these options while parents try an outdoor yoga or Zumba class. Families who want to keep their focus on the art are invited to attend an hour-long tour at noon on weekends.

While the regular summer activities are finished at the end of August, Summer at SAM isn’t over until the annual Salmon Return Family Festival, this year on September 8 from 10:00-3:00. The family festival features live music, hands-on arts activities, family focused tours and more.

The Olympic Sculpture Park is a public park, and there is no charge for admission. The park is completely accessible by wheelchair, and SAM offers a variety of services for disabled visitors.  TASTE Café will be open on weekends. A different food truck will serve the park each Thursday night so there’s no need to rush to fill little tummies between work and visiting the park.