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Seattle Art Museum's Picasso Exhibition Surpasses 400,000 Visitors, Breaks Record
People look on at "Acrobat" during a media preview at the Seattle Art Museum. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson.

SEATTLE, WA.- Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris has broken SAM’s record for the most popular exhibition in the history of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) downtown, attracting more than 400,000 visitors and boosting its membership to an all time high during its showing in Seattle, October 8, 2010 through January 17, 2011.

More than 400,00 visitors, including students with school groups from throughout Washington state and beyond, toured the exhibition of more than 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs from virtually every phase of Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) legendary career. The exhibition’s attendance surpassed the museum’s previous record-breaker, Impressionism: Paintings Collected by European Museums, which attracted 316,000 attendees between June 12 and August 29, 1999.

Drawn from the collection of the Musée National Picasso in Paris, the largest and most important repository of the artist’s work in the world, the unparalleled opportunity to present this work was made possible due to the Musée Picasso’s recent closure for renovations. This allowed a global tour of this full-scale survey to travel for the first and, very likely, the only time.

SAM’s membership also soared to a new record during Picasso, increasing the total number of members from nearly 31,000 in June to over 48,000 households The museum expects this number to be even higher when it completes the processing of January’s membership results.

Nearly 19,000 school children from around the Pacific Northwest, across Washington, and from as far afield as Vancouver, Montana and Texas were introduced to Picasso. More than 15,000 came for tours and nearly 4,000 participated in SAM’s “Art Goes to School,” an outreach program that sends teaching artists out to schools to conduct workshops based on Picasso and the exhibition.

SAM also partnered with hundreds of organizations including Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Downtown Seattle Association, and the University of Washington for educational programs, promotions and to maximize economic impact for the show. The museum has commissioned a study to assess the impact of the exhibition on the economy of the Central Puget Sound and expects results by early March 2011.

Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris will be on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts February 19-May 15, 2011, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco June 11 - September 25, 2011.

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