Frye Art Museum

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Frye Art Museum
Frye Art Museum Logo.gif
Frye Museum winter.jpg
The Frye Art Museum (2007)
Location704 Terry Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104 (United States)
Coordinates47°36′26″N 122°19′27″W / 47.6071°N 122.3242°W / 47.6071; -122.3242
DirectorJoseph Rosa

The Frye Art Museum is an art museum located in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. The museum emphasizes painting and sculpture from the nineteenth century to the present. Its holdings originate in the private collection of Charles (1858–1940) and Emma (d. 1934) Frye. Charles, owner of a local meatpacking plant, set aside money in his will for a museum to house the Fryes' collection of 232 paintings. The Frye Art Museum opened to the public in 1952 as Seattle's first free art museum.[2][3] The museum building was originally designed by Paul Thiry, although it has since been considerably altered.[3]

Charles Frye's will required that the majority of the Fryes' own collection continue always to be on view in rooms of a certain size; stipulations were also made about lighting conditions and specifically concrete floors (ultimately elided by placing wood over the concrete). He also required that admission always be free. These conditions were enough to keep the Seattle Art Museum from being interested in his collection.[4]

The Fryes' collection consisted entirely of representational works, with a tendency toward "the dark, the dramatic, and the psychological" rather than "the genteel". The museum's permanent collection reflects Charles Frye's relatively conservative artistic tastes, and (despite the lack of any such stipulation in the will) the museum continued to be dedicated exclusively to representational art, both in its acquisitions and its exhibits.[4] This conservatism reflected the artistic and social values of its first director, Walser Greathouse (d. 1966) and of his even more conservative widow and successor Ida Kay Greathouse, who ran the museum until 1993.[2][3]

However, exhibitions under new, professional management in recent years have been far more venturesome, eliciting comparisons to Seattle's Henry Art Gallery.[4] Exhibitions in recent years have included "Subspontaneous: Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee," featuring sculptures involving natural forces and ecological growth,[5] "Agnieszka Polska: Love Bite,"[6] and "Unsettling Femininity: Selections from the Frye Art Museum Collection."[7] The museum often redeploys its permanent collection, experimenting with exhibiting it in different arrangements. In 2018, the museum had 109,249 total attendees and a membership base of 2,383.[8]

In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum temporarily closed for in-person visits and now offers online art viewing and educational opportunities through the Frye From Home program.[9] On August 28, 2020, the museum announced its expectation to reopen for in-person visits in October 2020.[10]


The Frye Art Museum's collection highlights many kinds of paintings, prints, works on paper, and sculptures.[1] Artists represented at the museum include Eugène Boudin, Nicolai Fechin, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Félix Ziem, Eugène Isabey, Franz von Lenbach, Tim Lowly, Fritz von Uhde (Picture Book), Hermann Corrodi (Venice), Ludwig von Zumbusch, Leopold Schmutzler, and Franz Stuck (Judgment of Paris).


The Frye Art Museum library contains more than 2,000 books.[11] It specializes in 19th and 20th century American and German art.[12]


  1. ^ a b Frye Art Museum: About, ARTINFO, 2008, retrieved 2008-07-28
  2. ^ a b History, Frye Art Museum. Accessed 6 December 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Jen Graves, The Pepsi Challenge: The Henry's and the Frye's Original Collections Together for the First Time: Can You Guess Who Collected What?, The Stranger, November 22, 2007, p. 29.
  4. ^ "Subspontaneous: Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee". Frye Art Museum. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  5. ^ "Agnieszka Polska: Love Bite". Frye Art Museum. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  6. ^ "Unsettling Femininity: Selections from the Frye Art Museum Collection". Frye Art Museum. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  7. ^ "2018 Annual Report" (PDF). Frye Art Museum. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  8. ^ "Frye From Home". Frye From Home. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  9. ^ "COVID-19 Updates". Frye From Home. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  10. ^ "Collection Research". Frye Art Museum. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  11. ^ American Library Directory. Vol. 2 (64th ed.). Information Today, Inc. 2011–2012. pp. 2568–2576. ISBN 978-1-57387-411-3.

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