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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:
Tue ​– Thu 
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.

Coming Up​​ Sep 13 2016Asia Talks: Kyaw Thu, Burmese Actor and Activist Sep 15 2016Asia Talks: Textile Artist Azumi Hosoda Sep 28 2016Words on Water: Writers in Conversation

Saturday University Lecture Series

Saturday University

Tea Times: Cultures, Commerce, and Conflict

October 1 - December 3, 2016

The history of tea is steeped in philosophy, literature, art, and world trade. Take an in-depth look at wild plants, distinct pleasures, and imperial exploitation as eight scholars present a few remarkable moments from the long story of tea.

Get Series Tickets​​​

The popular Saturday University Lecture Series brings in national, local, and international speakers to delve into a unique theme for each series. Every year we host a winter/spring and a fall series, in partnership with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies. Our mornings begin with coffee and book browsing (thanks to the Elliott Bay Book Company), and conclude with an audience discussion with the speaker.

I spend all week thinking about last Saturday’s lecture, and looking forward to the next one.

Auditorium seating is primarily through advance series subscriptions with limited individual lecture tickets sold at the door. Other interested visitors can join the on-site simulcast viewing at no charge.​​​​​

Teachers attending three or more lectures in a series are eligible for FREE clock hours. Sign in at each lecture required.

​Saturday University is presented in partnership with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies and the Elliott Bay Book Compan​y.​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Coming Up​​ Oct 1 2016Saturday University: The Origins and Spread of Tea-drinking Oct 8 2016Saturday University: Buddhism & the Invention of Tea Culture Oct 15 2016Saturday University: Engaging the Object Oct 22 2016Saturday University: Tea Horse Road Nov 5 2016Saturday University: Consuming Empires, Consuming Desires Nov 12 2016Saturday University: The Power and Pleasure of Tea Bowls Nov 19 2016Saturday University: Tea Revives the World Dec 3 2016Saturday University: Can a Plantation be Fair?

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.​​​

Coming Up​​ Oct 20 2016Asia Films: Ant Story (Piprabidya)

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.

Coming Up​​ Sep 10 – Sun 11 2016Asia Arts Workshop: Hand Papermaking of the Islamic World

IMAGES: Photo: Catherine Anstett. Photo: Wayne S. Grazio. Osaka Elegy (Naniwa erejî), 1936, Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Photo: Dinesh Korde.