Top 20 Seattle attractions

Frye Art Museum

free admission
The Frye Art Museum has a stunning collection of European oil paintings.

The small Frye Art Museum is east of downtown Seattle in First Hill, at 704 Terry Avenue, 98104

It has 232 exquisite 19th and 20th Century paintings from Germany and America.

It also hosts twelve temporary exhibitions a year, so there's always a reason to return and see what's new.

Check opening hours (admission is free).

5 best things about Frye Art Museum

1. The Frye Art Museum is free. 

The Frye Art Museum opened in 1952, and is named after its benefactors Charles and Emma Frye.  Charles Frye gifted his private collection in perpetuity in his will, under the condition that the museum remain free. 

2. The Frye Art Museum was founded by an early Seattle family, Charles and Emma Frye.

Charles and Emma Frye arrived in Seattle in 1888 from Iowa.  Charles was wildly successful, establishing the Frye-Bruhn Meatpacking Company with his brother and a friend, to capitalize on demand from the 1890's Klondike Gold Rush.  Frye's business interests later diversified into real estate, gold and oil. 

With their growing wealth, the Fryes took regular trips to Europe to make more art acquisitions.  They had a keen interest in art from the Munich School, perhaps because they were both children of German immigrants, and later founded the Frye Art Museum.

There's two impressive paintings of Emma and Charles Frye by Henry Raschen (1913).  You can also find two smaller portraits of them elsewhere in the gallery.

3. The permanent collection was previously located in their mansion, and includes 19th century and early 20th century German paintings.

The Frye Art Museum has 232 paintings from Charles and Emma Frye's Founding Collection, painted in the 19th century and early 20th century by German artists. The paintings are a lovely mix of portraits, landscapes and pastoral scenes.

Do you notice the paintings are hung more closely together than you'd see at another art museum? This is because the Frye Art Museum has created the Frye Salon, to replicate the look of the private salon inside Charles and Emma Frye's mansion where paintings were hung floor to ceiling. The stunning Frye mansion was located a block away at 907 Columbia Street, but was later demolished. 

The View of Konigssee (1878) by Danile Somogyi, depicts a spectacular lake in the German state of Bavaria.

This striking portrait is Woman in Costume (1910) by Leopold Schmutzler.

In the bottom right, is the Portrait of the Artist's Family (1907) by Friedrich August von Kaulbach. 

4. The collection expanded to 20th century American artists.

The Frye Art Museum's collection has since expanded to include acquisitions from early 20th century American artists, encompassing the Civil War to First World War.  

Landscape with Campfire (1915-20) is by early American painter Henry Raschen, famous for his California landscapes and depction of Native Americans.

The top painting is the Deserted Camp by Henry Raschen.

5. Check out the cool temporary exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum.

The temporary exhibitions are held at the front of the Frye Art Museum, and there's usually a new collection and something fun and exciting to see each month.  Check here for the latest temporary exhibition.  

This is the hallway that connects the temporary exhibitions to the permanent exhibition.

These are some photos from a past exhibition, Jane Wong: After Preparing the Altar, the Ghosts Feast Feverishly.  It's based on Wong's experiences with poverty in rural China, and her parents owning a Chinese restaurant in New Jersey.

Know before you go 

  • Admission:  FREE.
  • Address: 704 Terry Avenue, 98104. 
  • Hours: check here
  • Tours:  check here
  • Cafe: yes.
  • Parking:  on-street paid parking near the Frye Art Museum.
  • Temporary exhibitions: check here.

Fun things to do near the Frye Art Museum.

Visit other Seattle art galleries like the Seattle Art Museum in downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum in nearby Volunteer Park, or the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington.

You might also enjoy the artworks, artifacts and antiquities at the excellent Nordic Museum just north of downtown Seattle in Ballard, or modern art at the Museum of Pop Culture near the Space Needle.

More Art Museums in Seattle

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