Tacoma Art Museum Unveils Expansion by Olson Kundig Partners

The Vista Gallery in the Benaroya Wing of the Tacoma Art Museum. Photography by Benjamin Benschneider.

Washington’s Tacoma Art Museum will open its newly-constructed Benaroya Wing to the public on January 19. The museum enlisted Olson Kundig design principals Tom Kundig and Kirsten R. Murray to execute the 6,595-square foot expansion. The wing adds an additional 4,800 square feet of gallery space to house 350 works of art that have been donated to the museum by the Benaroya family, along with a rotation of special exhibits.

A key feature of the expansion is the Vista Gallery, a 46-foot wide wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that project six feet past the building’s exterior. The Vista Gallery is adjacent to local trails and bike paths, visually engaging the surrounding community.

The Vista Gallery in the Benaroya Wing. Photography by Benjamin Benschneider.

“With the new Benaroya Wing, the intimate scale inside the gallery is balanced against the external civic scale of the city of Tacoma,” said Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA. “The Vista Gallery with its window wall offers a lens into what’s happening inside the gallery, and outside to the urban experience of downtown Tacoma.”

The Vista Gallery also posed a challenge to Kundig and Murray. Sensitivity to scale, lighting, and protection of the art were key to the conception of the design strategies for the space.

“The Benaroya Wing is an evolution of the original museum design,” Murray said. “It is intended to be an extension of the larger museum building, but add a new level of transparency and viewability to continue the Tacoma Art Museum’s longstanding goal of deepening its engagement with the city.”

Although the Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Wing was officially completed in 2018, it will host its grand opening to the public on January 19.

The interior of the Benaroya Wing. Photography by Benjamin Benschneider.
Additional gallery space in the Benaroya Wing. Photography by Benjamin Benschneider.
The exterior of the Tacoma Art Museum expansion. Photography by Benjamin Benschneider.

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