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Gardner Center

The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

Though the Asian Art Museum is closed for renovation until early 2020, the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas has been out and about hosting a dynamic array of public programs in Seattle and beyond. Until the museum’s reopening, Gardner Center events, including the popular Saturday University Series, will be held primarily at the Seattle Art Museum. We will continue to host our summer World Music Series in Volunteer Park.

Gardner Center events explore the vast diversity of Asia and its presence in the world. From history and culture to global development 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 has long-term partnerships with the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and the Elliott Bay Book Company.

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

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

    Photo of a statue from Dunhuang

    Silk Roads Past and Present: From Ancient Afghan Treasure to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

    October 12, 2019 – January 18, 2020
    Seattle Art Museum

    Scheduled breaks in November and December.

    Vast trading networks across the Eurasian continent known as Silk Roads were active for over 1500 years. Gain new understandings of this history of interactions between people of different languages, religions, and art.

    Presented in partnership with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies, the Elliott Bay Book Company, and the Dunhuang Foundation.

    Get Series Tickets

    Image of a stack of manuscripts

    What Is Precious?

    February 1–March 7, 10–11:30 am
    Seattle Art Museum (February 1–8)
    Seattle Asian Art Museum (February 15–March 7)

    Explore arts that reveal ideas of what is precious, as well as precious ephemera and areas of knowledge that have been highly valued in different times and places in Asia as we expand upon a theme in one of the Asian Art Museum's newly reinstalled galleries.

    Presented with the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies and the Elliott Bay Book Company.

    Get Series Tickets

    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

      Photo of a man working with textiles for an ikat dyeing workshop

      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.

      World Music Series

      photo of the BKO Quintent: five west african men with their native instruments

      Join us for free outdoor concerts at the Volunteer Amphitheater each summer featuring musical acts from near and far!​

        IMAGES: Photo: Catherine Anstett. Photo: Munem Wasif. Image courtesy of the Dunhuang Academy, photo: Wu Jian. Osaka Elegy (Naniwa erejî), 1936, Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Photo: courtesy of Shoji Yamamura. Photo: courtesy of BKO Quintet.

        The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.