In the Neighborhood: Frye Brings History to First Hill
The Frye Art Museum
The Frye Art Museum is a long-time neighbor of St. James Cathedral and although
many parishioners have rediscovered the "new" Frye since its recent expansion,
many may not know its colorful history or the details of the renovation,
completed in 1997. The Frye re-opened its doors with a new building exactly 45
years after it first opened in 1952.
Designed by the award-winning Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Architects, the
expanded museum specializes in realist paintings and features an elegant
environment for contemporary and traditional realist art. It also provides a
pleasant place to meet after services at St. James. Other features include a
museum store, a restaurant, an auditorium, and art studios offering over 15
different workshops quarterly.
The roots of the museum go back to 1888, when Charles Frye founded a meat
packing business. He built a warehouse in the vicinity of the King Dome. Train
tracks led cars full of cattle to the warehouse where the meat was prepared and
shipped out to shops along the West Coast.
Gold seekers flowing into Seattle stocked up on Frye meat before heading
to the Klondike during the 1898 Gold Rush. Charles and his wife, Emma, began
collecting art at that time. Over a 40-year period, they amassed a collection
that reflected their German background. After Charles's death in 1940 his
attorney, Walser Greathouse, worked patiently to create an art museum for the
collection. Greathouse operated the museum for 13 years. His wife, Kay took up
the torch for another 28 years. The new director, Richard V. West, arrived in
1995 in time to oversee the expansion.
The Frye Permanent Collection consists of 19th and 20th-century American
and European paintings and includes one of the nation's most important
collections of German Munich School paintings, in addition to an impressive
collection of American masters.
St. James played an important role in the grand opening festivities,
supporting Frye staff in a variety of ways, and provided parking space for over
5,000 visitors that descended upon the neighborhood during the two-day opening.
The Frye also offers a wide range of art workshops, tours and
international exhibitions and is open to the public free of charge.
June 19 - Sept. 5, 1999
Earthscape: Artists in
Alaska's Copper River Delta
July 2 - Aug. 29, 1999
John Register: A Retrospective
The contemporary American urban landscape
Mary Ann Barron is the Director of Community Relations at the Frye Art Museum.