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Gardner Center

The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

​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.

The Gardner Center is proud to partner with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies and Departments of Art History and Asian Languages and Literature; the Elliott Bay Book Company; and a variety of organizations involved with Asia.

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​​ 17 2016Asia Talks: Buddhist Art Inspiration 24 2016Asia Talks: Somini Sengupta 5 2016Asia Talks: Skills of the Ninjas

Saturday University Lecture Series

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

Sites of Meaning: Caring for Asia's Cultural Heritage

Jan 30 – Apr 9 2016

The winter 2016 series investigates current conservation work at important architectural, art, and historical sites in Asia, and how these projects include new technologies, sustainability, and community development.

Preserving exceptional architectural, historic and art sites of the past is ever more complex, with pressures from rapid urban development, environmental considerations, and more.

Using new approaches, many projects are planned with extensive community involvement and sustainability in mind. Conservation techniques are making significant advances—while digitizing entire sites can help protect them from over-crowding.

Leaders in site conservation and cultural heritage preservation discuss projects in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China and more.

​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​​ 13 2016Saturday University: Conservation of Buddhist Paintings 20 2016Saturday University: "Saving Mes Aynak" Afghan Buddhist Site 27 2016Saturday University: Cultural Heritage in Post-Earthquake Nepal 5 2016Saturday University: Buddhist Cave Temples at Dunhuang 12 2016Saturday University: Multiple Lives of a Sacred Site in Bodh Gaya 19 2016Saturday University: Restoring Historic Gardens from Cairo to Delhi 9 2016Saturday University: Dimensions of Conservation at Dunhuang

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.​​​

Image: Osaka Elegy (Naniwa erejî), 1936, Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.

Coming Up​​ 3 2016Asia Films: I am Sun Mu

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. ​

Photo: Dinesh Korde​

Coming Up​​ 26 2016Art Globally: Artists' Perspectives 15 2016Yoni Ki Baat: A South Asian "Vagina Monologues" Adaptation 16 2016Yoni Ki Baat: A South Asian "Vagina Monologues" Adaptation 17 2016Yoni Ki Baat: A South Asian "Vagina Monologues" Adaptation 20 2016Art Globally: Indigo Workshop