Frye Art Museum

Photo by: Joe Mabel, CC

The Frye Art Museum is one of the delights of visiting Seattle’s First Hill. This amazing art museum is a must see for every art connoisseur. The art museum displays the artwork mainly of late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The artwork strongly leans towards conservative paintings. The personal art collection of Charles and Emma Frye was eventually gifted in perpetuity to the people of Seattle. The Museum was Seattle’s first free art museum. The museum offers a wide collection of historical as well as modern exhibitions. Originally designed by Paul Thiry, the building has undergone major alterations since then. Paul Thiry also designed Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry. In 2012, the museum celebrated its sixteenth anniversary.


Located on Seattle’s First Hill, The Frye Art Museum first opened its doors in 1952 as the legacy of Charles and Emma Frye. Charles and Emma Frye were the prominent early twentieth century Seattle business leaders and art collectors. Originally, Charles approached the Seattle Fine Arts society with his vision of creating a museum in Volunteer Park. The application was denied by the Arts Society, and the couple went on to construct their own private building for the museum.

Charles had made his fortune in the meat-packing business, and both husband and wife were avid art collectors. They donated their 232 piece art collection that became the Founding Collection of the museum.

Collection and Exhibits

The collection in the Frye Art Museum highlights several different kinds of paintings, print, paper and sculptures. The artwork displayed includes the work of famous artists, including Felix Ziem, Franz von Lenbach, Ludwig von Zumbusch, Franz Stuck, Tim Lowly, Adolphe Bouguereau and Hermann Corrodi. 150 paintings from the permanent collection are displayed in the grand salon style, the style that was quite popular during the nineteenth century. The museum has a lot of cultural influences tied in to it. The light exhibit is a spectacular light installation that takes up about seventy percent of the room.

The Frye, as commonly called by the local people, also organizes frequent exhibitions that typically feature contemporary art. These exhibitions are held to promote the art work of internationally renowned as well as emerging artists. The Frye art museum also hosts extensive public programs throughout the year. The museum presents a series of lectures and talks for artists, scholars, educators and curators. Other public programs include film screenings, music performances, guided tours and other activities for students as well as general public.

Library and Café

The Frye library consists of more than one thousand books as of 2011. The Museum Café is always a delight to finish your tour to the Frye Museum with refreshment in. You can also indulge in made-from-scratch delicious appetizers, salads, soups, and sandwiches. Drinks include Café Vita coffee, wine, beer and soft drinks.


The Frye Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Thursdays from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Entry to the Museum is free of cost for everyone.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

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