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Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Attractions

Museum District--1701 Pacific Avenue

Downtown Tacoma

(253) 272-4258


Tacoma Art Museum Montage

Montage Photo of the Front of the Tacoma Art Museum Image Courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum Photo by Joe Giedhill



  The Museum Building
  HIghlights of the Museum's Collections
  Museum Store
  Chihuly Art Tours
  Museum Web Site


The Tacoma Art Museum is a delightful regional museum.  It is housed in a handsome building situated in the midst of beautiful downtown Tacoma and it features a lovely collection of art including the largest collection of Dale Chihuly's glass art.

 Founded in 1935, The Tacoma Art Museum ("TAM") hosts 80,000 visitors annually. 

 On a recent visit to TAM, I noted what I really like about this regional museum.  The TAM is approachable for a casual visitor.  You can enter the museum, enjoy seeing its permanent collections and its exhibitions and walk out in two hours.  Breaking up your visit with a well-timed coffee break in the cafe would give your legs a rest.  I think the two hour time window is important  because many people get the dreaded museum fatigue after a couple of hours.


 Another feature of its collections is that its art is not intimidating.  It doesn't have rooms full of old masters that represent the grandiose side of the art world.  I don't object to old masters but they can appear to be on a pedestal to the casual museum visitor.

Leroy the Big Pup

Leroy the Unofficial Museum Mascot


TAM's glass art and its contemporary pieces are welcoming and are displayed in a comfortable and easy to navigate series of galleries.  The patron friendly side of the museum is reflected in the museum's unofficial mascot Leroy.  This 10 foot tall lovable cardboard dog sculpture is often displayed in the lobby to welcome visitors to the museum. 


TAM moved into its present facility in 2003.  The building itself is a work of art designed by architect Antoine Predock.  The building was designed to fit into the architecture of downtown Tacoma including the Union Station, the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, the attractive old downtown business district, and the Thea Foss Waterway. The building offers 12,000 square feet of galleries.  I personally enjoy seeing notable architecture and the TAM building is delightful.  It adds a light and airy quality to the art on display. 

Tacoma Art Museum Lobby

Main Lobby


Some art museums present a serious visage and put art on a pedestal.  The TAM makes you feel comfortable as you approach the building and enter its bright and spacious lobby. The light feeling of the museum building's lobby sets the stage to view the art. The spacious exhibition galleries wrap around an atrium.



 Chihuly Permanent Exhibition

The Permanent Chihuly Art Collection


Dale Chihuly Glass Art

TAM offers the largest permanent collection of Dale Chihuly's glass art.  The museum has a collection of 110 pieces donated by the artist including 40 pieces on permanent display.  Chihuly has taken a special interest in Tacoma because it is his hometown and he has been quite generous with gifts of his art to the city and its art museum.  A major Chihuly exhibition "Mille Fiori" was the opening exhibition in 2003 for the present museum building.  I had the pleasure of seeing that exhibition and it was one of the finest art exhibitions I have ever seen.

Chihuly Permanent Collection

 Selection from the Permanent Chihuly Art Collection


Dale Chihuly Soft Cylinder

Enamel Blue Soft Cylinder with Tulip Yellow Lip Wrap by Chihuly Studios Photo by Scott Lee Image courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum ©2011 Chihuly Studio


The permanent collection display of 40 pieces is a treat for Chihuly art fans.  The art is beautifully displayed in a well-lit room.  It is appropriate that this is the first room you encounter on your tour of the museum because of the long-standing connection that the museum has with Chihuly.

Ma Chihuly's Floats

"Ma Chihuly's Floats" Displayed on "The Wave"


Chihuly donated several of his colorful floats dubbed "Ma Chihuly's Floats" to TAM.  The museum displays the floats on Richard Rhodes permanent installation in the atrium referred to as "The Wave".  The floats are displayed from April through August. 

The museum also offers a tour about Chihuly's art in Tacoma.  Please see the tour information below.

 Other Museum Holdings

 Of the museum's 3,400 object collection, 65% are by Northwest artists and represent the strength of their holdings.  Other portions of their collection include Japanese prints, American prints, prints by contemporary artists, French and German paintings from the second half of the nineteenth century, as well as twentieth-century American paintings and works of paper.



Dale Chihuly Exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum

Image of the Recent Exhibition "Dale Chihuly's Northwest" Image Courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum Photographer Scott Leen ©2011 Chihuly Studio


The Museum typically has several exhibitions running concurrently.  Please see the museum's web site for information about the current exhibitions.


The store offers a wide selection of merchandise including jewelry and glass art made by regional artists.




The cafe offers soups, salads, and sandwiches as well as a variety of beverages.  The cafe is open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. At my recent visit, I enjoyed a panini-style turkey sandwich. The service was excellent.



Photography is allowed in the museum.  You cannot use flash.  Use of tripods requires prior approval of the Museum's Registrar. 



Permanent Chihuly Collection

Selection from the Permanent Chihuly Collection


Guided Walking Tour

Of special note for Chihuly fans is a special walking tour offered by the museum.  The 60 to 90 minute tour views Chihuly's many works on display at TAM, the Union Station, and the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.  Public and private tours are available.  A $16 fee is charged for the tour and the fee includes admission to TAM. For more details, consult the museum's web site.

Tobac Basket Set by Chihuly Studio

Image of the Recent Exhibition "Dale Chihuly's Northwest" Image Courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum Photographer Scott Leen ©2011 Chihuly Studio


Cell Phone Tour

TAM offers a cell phone tour of Seattle to see Chihuly installations in Tacoma.  It takes you to 12 stops to discuss the installations.  Dial (888) 411-4220 to begin the tour.  For more details, consult the museum's web site.  The museum does have a brochure that lists the stops for the tour.


The museum is open on Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00  p.m. It is closed on major holidays. 


Paid parking is available underneath the museum building.



(253) 272-4258



Please click here to go to the Museum's web site.  The web site has directions to get to the Museum. 



There is an admission fee to the museum.  The museum offers free admission on the first Thursday of each month from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.




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