I don’t go to the Seattle Art Museum to see architecture, I go to see the art. But let’s face it, I’m an architectural historian, and the line between art and architecture is a blurry one (is there even a line?). So it should come as no surprise that upon spotting the Italian Room I was enthralled. Tucked away in the northeast corner of the 3rd floor, beyond the Mediterranean art (also a good exhibit, by the way), is a full interior from 1575-1600 Chiavenna, Italy.
Stepping into the Italian Room is like stepping out of the art museum and into another world. The windows always offer a beckoning light, but no modern, distracting view. Here you can look at a space that is older than the United States and almost all the architecture in it. The room has been beautifully restored and all approximately 145 pieces returned to their originally arrangement using original nail holes. The only additions are the fireplace and floor, which are meant to replicate what was originally there. As the floor is new, don’t hesitate by the doorway–step inside!
Intrigued but can’t make the visit? You can read more about the history and design of the Italian Room, including its use and incorporation of Greek and Renaissance design elements, over at the Seattle Art Museum page.
Thinking about making the trip? The Seattle Art Museum has some other architectural elements in various exhibits. Keep an eye out for the top of a corinthian column (an architectural element echoed by the design of the Italian room!) in the Mediterranean exhibit. And, on your way to the Pacific Northwest art, you may catch a glimpse of the elevator grate from the Chicago Stock Exchange (which I previously mentioned, here).
Have a great week!