Seattle has a relatively new Sculpture garden in the central city area, down the hill from the Space Needle, just beyond Belltown and happily nextled into a corner of the shoreline. I read that this space was "reclaimed" over a period of decades from its former use as industrial land - a refinery and accompanying buildings that were gradually demolished, and then (over many years) the landscape was altered into a form that would make a good home for the variety of interesting and provocative artworks that now make their home here.
I have one caveat - I was in the park on a brilliant summer day of clear sky and warm temperatures, when it was truly lovely to spend time outdoors soaking in the artscape. But perhaps such a day is not truly representative of Seattle - a place known for it frequently rainy spells that occasionally last for weeks - or is it months? Perhaps this artwork would have been better served in an indoor space? I don't know for such, but I wonder.
A free museum?? I'm in! Take a walk down from Belltown to the waterfront and you'll find yourself near the Olympic Sculpture Park. The park is part of the Seattle Art Museum and has some amazing modern sculptures by very famous sculptures. On top of that, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of Puget Sound.
Wish I had more shots of this but the light wouldn't cooperate...
This is a great, free activity for the early morning when you need a little peace and quiet before hitting Pike's or other busy venues. Olympic Sculpture Park covers 9 acres right on the Elliott Bay waterfront and has a couple dozen or so pieces ranging from very large to not-so. It probably doesn't rank among the top art gardens I've visited but you can't beat the view! There's a pavilion with a giftshop and cafe (open only spring/summer) and chairs here and there for having a sit-down and drinking in that gorgeous vista across the water.
The park is open 365 days a year from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. Don't touch the works and don't mistake certain benches for a place to park your derriere - it's "art" too and the security people will have a cow.
Extra tip: Need a cup of wake-up for your walk? Uptown Espresso and Bakery (Pier 70 at Alaskan Way and Broad, near the fountain) on the southeast corner of the park has great coffee, Italian sodas and baked goodies.
Those driving next to Seattle's waterfront on busy Alaskan Way and passing under a pedestrian bridge probably wonder what the vastly oversized typwriter eraser is doing in the middle of Seattle's waterfront.
It is in fact part of Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park, which was set aside as a place "Where Art Meets Nature" according to some of the local publicity.
Some of the park is organized into a garden-like facility, while other areas are designed to be wildflower fields and other "natural" environments.
The park is connected to the parks running along the Seattle Waterfront (Myrtle Edwards Park and Elliott Bay Park) by walkways, and at the southern edge of Myrtle Edwards Park the two parks appear to overlap - the bicycle path from Myrtle Edwards park passes through an area occupied by several sculptures from the Olympic Sculpture Park.
An artfully decorated pedestrian bridge carries the pathway over the railroad line that runs along the waterfront here.
A large series of steel waves is the largest work of art in the sculpture park, and by their shape they appear to reflect both Seattle's past as a ship building center, and the water that shapes Seattle in so many different ways.
The sculpture park also has a small conservancy / green house where plants are kept.
While the sculpture park is owned and operated by the Seattle Art Museum, it should be noted that the main part of the art museum is some blocks away from the sculpture park. This is in fact only one of several locations operated by the Seattle Art Museum. Other locations include the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park and the downtown Seattle Art Museum at 1300 First Avenue.
Looking for free artsy thing to do while in Seattle? Visit the Olympic Sculpture Park along Elliott Bay, near the last stop of Route 99.
You can relax and pick out a brochure explaining the public sculptures in the small cafe. Outdoors, you can take Fido for a walk as most of the locals do.
I think what's interesting is how this park came to be, read the website.