USA: The Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle - Art with a View.


What?
A spectacularly-sited open-air sculpture park.

Why visit?
Lots of reasons. The art. The views. And it's free, too.

We like our outings best when they combine human ingenuity and natural beauty. And, guess what? The Olympic Sculpture Park ticks both boxes.

Where?
Right on the water, in the northern part of Seattle's downtown area,  just about one mile away from Pike Place Market. Map.



NOPE, IT'S got nothing to do with sports.  So those of you expecting giant statues of muscular athletes and sporting gear will be disappointed. 
The Olympic Sculpture Park is not named for Ancient Greek competitions, but gets its name from the Olympic peninsula and the mountains located on it, just across the water from the park.  And yes, the vistas are great.

Barely a decade old, the Park is one of three sites that make up the Seattle Art Museum, SAM. Most people are familiar with SAM's downtown location, a firm fixture on Seattle's cultural scene. And if you've been following our articles, you know that we are particularly enamoured with SAM's second location, the Art Deco Asian Art Museum.

The Olympic Sculpture Park is very different. For starters, it doesn't have a roof, unlike the other two. It's also free, making it a good outing for those on a shoestring budget. And lastly, the art is huuuuuuge. It wouldn't fit in any of the other two locations.

So what about the art?

Well, for starters, no Rembrandts or Van Goghs here, for obvious reasons. Most of the works are abstract sculptures, and made of not-so subtle materials like steel and concrete.
The best-known artist is probably Richard Serra, a contemporary art superstar known for his rusty metal contraptions. There are also a few not-so-famous contributors: some of the donated works have been, rather unkindly, referred to as the "equivalent of an unwanted birthday present left on the curb for charity."
Richard Serra's 'Wake', a hallucinatory maze of rusted, pardon, weathered, steel. 
The most iconic piece is Alexander Calder's 'Eagle', a jumble of steel and red paint. It comes with matching red chairs, and, oddly for a steel structure, is so delicate that the gardeners have to clip the grass at its base by hand, lest their lawnmowers chip off some paint. The sculpture predates the garden by 36 years: it was originally located in front of a bank in Fort Worth, Texas and picked up in the art equivalent of a yard sale, after the bank was sold.
Eagle and Olympics. 

The Eagle's wingtip and another man-made bird. 
Another of our favourites is Jaume Plensa’s 15 meter (46 foot) tall 'Echo'. As you can see, the seagulls like it too- a great place to chill and watch the sunset. 
'Echo' with a seagull.
Again, apart from the art it's the wide vistas that make this a great place for a walk. You'll get first-class views of Seattle's iconic Space Needle, and even better views of the Olympic mountains, especially at sunset. There's even a minuscule beach should you want to dip your toes in the water. 
Selfie time!

Getting there:

Unfortunately we still haven't figured out Seattle's public transport system. But there seems to be a bus connection of sorts. 

Otherwise, it's walkable distance from downtown and of course there's plenty of parking nearby. 

The Park is open every day till just after sunset and is free. 

Useful links:
SAM's official website with the usual practical info. 
The Seattle Times has a basic (and slightly outdated) introduction to the Park. 

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