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Gardner Center

The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

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.

Founded in 2009 by Mimi Gardner Gates, the Gardner Center is currently overseen by SAM’s Asian art curatorial team in collaboration with colleagues in the museum’s Education & Public Engagement department. This ongoing program shares a variety of perspectives and builds on our region’s longstanding ties with 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.

Gardner Center



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


Saturday University Lecture Series

Delve into new themes every season with a different speaker each week. Challenging, thought-provoking, and sometimes surprising, this long-running and always popular lecture series incorporates audience discussion as experts from around the world join us to share their insights on Asia throughout time.

Expanded my world view tremendously.


Buddha in the Redwood Temple

2023 – 2024 series

SAM’s Saturday University Lecture Series is back with a full slate of fascinating speakers on a range of topics. The series will draw inspiration from Renegade Edo and Paris: Japanese Prints and Toulouse-Lautrec, focusing on the art of 18th- and 19th-century Japan as well as the ways in which culture travels across geographic boundaries. Speakers include noted scholar of 18th-century Japan Julie Nelson Davis from Pennsylvania State University, Javanese music expert Christina Sunardi from the University of Washington, and Boston College’s Aurelia Campbell, an authority on China’s Forbidden City. Mark your calendars for this exciting new season of Saturday University—you won't want to miss it!

Time & Dates Saturdays, 10 – 11:30 am
September 9, October 14, November 11, December 9, January 13, February 10, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8
Location Stimpson Auditorium, Seattle Asian Art Museum



View past lectures via our video playlist below.


Asia Talks

Writers, artists, community members, non-profit leaders and others engaged with Asia share their ideas, work, and experiences. Talks are dedicated to encounters across cultures—within Asia, between Asia and the rest of the world, and within the museum.

Taking inspiration from the thematic reinstallation of the Asian art collection at the newly renovation Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Asia Talks program supports new views on the vast diversity of Asia and arts of Asia’s past and present. Think beyond current national borders as we consider places and people within Asia and its diasporas in talks ranging from authors producing great writing from and about Asia, to local women from South Asia discussing family jewelry traditions, to a daylong session on a single Asian art form.

    Asia Films

    Asia Films

    From classics and documentaries to great yet lesser-known contemporary feature films, films of Asia and its diasporas are screened in the Seattle Asian Art Museum auditorium.​​​

      Asia Performs

      Three Indian dancers during a Diwali performance at Seattle Asian Art Museum

      Contemporary, traditional, hybrid, international, and local performing artists share their talents at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

      In summer, our free World Music Series takes place outdoors in Volunteer Park on Friday evenings.

        IMAGES: Photo: Alborz Kamalizad. Pool house, 1960, George Nakashima, image courtesy by Nakashimawoodworkers. Osaka Elegy (Naniwa erejî), 1936, Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Photo: Chloe Collyer. Photo: courtesy of Shoji Yamamura.

        Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

        Learn more about Equity at SAM