Our Visionary Partners
In late 1999, the Seattle Art Museum and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the successful purchase of the former UNOCAL fuel storage and distribution facility as the site of a future sculpture park. TPL’s expertise in conservation real estate and its mission of creating open space for people were a perfect complement to SAM’s interest in developing a site for public art and sculpture. The acquisition of the six-acre UNOCAL property, which also included an offshore submerged tidelands parcel, initiated a vision for the park’s future boundary that would extend to the Elliott Bay shoreline and make possible the seamless integration with Myrtle Edwards Park.
A year later, with leadership funding from the City of Seattle and King County, SAM and the Museum Development Authority were able to purchase the former RC’s Billiard bar at the corner of Elliott and Broad streets. This one-third acre property was permitted for a 12-story residential tower that would have severely impacted the park's otherwise unobstructed view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains and limited pedestrian access into the park and the public waterfront.
The final parcels needed to create the nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park were added in late 2005 when the City of Seattle transferred the former surface parking lot within the Alaskan Way right-of-way to the Department of Parks and Recreation as a park boulevard. This approximately two-and-a-half acre site was leased to SAM for two consecutive 25-year terms, so it can be developed and managed in a consistent manner as part of the Olympic Sculpture Park. Now complete, the waterfront parcel features shoreline plantings that support salmon restoration, an extension of the Elliott Bay Bicycle Trail to Broad Street and a new pedestrian boardwalk that offers a stronger visual and physical connection to Puget Sound.