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Gardner Center

The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas is gearing up to go out and about with our programs while the Asian Art Museum is closed for renovation (beginning in spring 2017).

​Offering dynamic public programs at the Asian Art Museum, Gardner Center events explore the vast diversity of Asia and its presence in the world. From history and culture to global health and urban design, we exchange ideas that include dialogue on challenging contemporary issues. We also invite you to experience a range of artistic expression related to Asia.

We are happy to announce that the popular Saturday University Series will still be held on Capitol Hill during Winter 2017 at the Seattle University campus, primarily in the spacious Pigott Hall. This new partnership with Seattle University’s Office of Global Engagement is in addition to our long-term partnerships with the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and the Elliott Bay Book Company. Look for our other programs such as Asia Talks, Art Globally, and performances to pop up at SAM downtown and elsewhere.

Learn more about the renovation and expansion of the Asian Art Museum.

Attend one of our community outreach gatherings.

Gardner Center



Office Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday
10 am – 5 pm

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Visit SAM’s calendar for a detailed schedule of Gardner Center programs.


Asia Talks

The Gardner Center invites scholars, writers, artists, global development experts, and others engaged with Asia to share their ideas, projects, and experiences. Using a multidisciplinary approach, our inquiry is dedicated to encounters across cultures—within Asia, between Asia and the rest of the world, and within the museum.

Asia Talks range from authors producing great writing from and about Asia, to local women from South Asia discussing family jewelry traditions, to a daylong session on an Asian art form.

    Saturday University Lecture Series

    Saturday University photo of man covered in plant leaves


    January 19–March 9
    Seattle Art Museum

    Approach plants artfully in this seven-part series, beginning with a comparison of musical structures and trees. Each lecture focuses on cultures and histories of one type of plant. Their uses vary from garden ornamentals to craft, agriculture, fiber and fruit.

    Please note: There will be no talks on February 23.

    Photo of a bonsai tree

    TRANS PLANTS: Collecting, Gathering, and Globalizing Plants

    March 16–April 27
    Seattle Art Museum

    Get Series Tickets

    Consider plants in and out of their native environment, and how plants become an art material in bonsai and Chinese gardens. Hear stories of a delicious mushroom that only grows in the wild, farming eucalyptus as a colonial endeavor, and a hunt for rhododendrons in China.

    Please note: There will be no talks on March 23 and April 13.

    Auditorium seating is primarily through advance series subscriptions with limited individual lecture tickets sold at the door.

    Held in partnership with the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies, and the Elliott Bay Book Company.

    Asia Films

    Asia Films

    From classic masterpieces to new popular cinema, Asian films are screened outdoors in the Volunteer Park Amphitheater on Friday nights in the summer, and in the Asian Art Museum auditorium during other seasons.​​​

      Asia Arts in Action

      ​The a​rts provide powerful experiences for​ and insights between people who don’t share a spoken language or similar background. The Gardner Center presents occasional Asia-related performances and visual artists’ demonstrations. From contemporary Korean music to Bollywood dance styles to traditional textile techniques, these are special opportunities to engage with artists in action.

      Every year, Tasveer and the Gardner Center co-present Yoni Ki Baat (a South Asian adaptation of The Vagina Monologues), created by an entirely new cast with their original stories.

        IMAGES: Photo: Catherine Anstett. Photo: Munem Wasif. Photo: Pacific Bonsai Museum. Osaka Elegy (Naniwa erejî), 1936, Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Photo: Dinesh Korde.