Mark Dion, Neukom Vivarium, 2004-06. Mixed-media greenhouse installation, 80 ft. long.

Icons and Monuments: Olympic Sculpture Park

The Seattle Art Museum’s new Olympic Sculpture Park is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it provides Seattle with the downtown central park it never had. That, and the fact that landscape architecture plays a greater role than in many other urban sculpture parks, suggests that, while OSP extends SAM’s profile across the downtown corridor onto a publicly accessible waterfront, the long-term success of the park will hinge on two things: the maturation over time of Weiss/Manfredi’s plantings and the addition of more sculptures—both permanent and temporary—to supplement the core collection of 17 Modernist sculptures and five postmodern commissions. Neither factor should present a problem, though both will require patience. OSP’s programming, as originally conceived by Lisa Corrin (SAM’s Deputy Director and Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art from 2001 to 2005), is intended to be flexible, with loans, commissions, and temporary installations creating a constantly evolving experience.