Dr. Richard E. Fuller

Dr. Richard E. Fuller

Dr. Fuller built for Seattle one of the premier collections of Asian art in the United States.

A Gift to a City

In 1931 the Seattle Fine Arts Society becomes the Seattle Art Museum under the leadership of Dr. Richard E. Fuller (1897–1976). Dr. Fuller and his mother, Margaret McTavish Fuller, offered the city $250,000 and the contribution of most of their extensive Japanese and Chinese collections for a new and much needed art museum. Dr. Fuller was truly in touch with the arts community around the city and had the desire to house properly a collection of his own, that sowed the seeds for the Seattle Art Museum.

An Art Museum for Seattle

A man who sought to use his skills and resources to serve his community, Dr. Fuller acted as Director of the Seattle Art Museum from its founding in 1933 until 1973. Dr. Fuller contributed his time greatly into building the Seattle Art Museum and although working full-time as Director of the Seattle Art Museum, he took no salary. He wisely understood that the museum was far more than just a place to store art but more a way to showcase numerous works by contemporary Northwest artists. It was an honor for any artist invited by Dr. Fuller to have a one-person exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum.

In 1931 the museum opened its doors to the public with a collection of 1,926 works of art. Three hundred thousand people visited the Seattle Art Museum in its first 6 months.

A Legacy That Lives On

War brought the threat of danger to Seattle. 650 important works from the collection were transported to Denver for safekeeping until the end of World War II. After the war, Seattle became the cultural and economic center of the Pacific Northwest. In endeavors of the arts, whether the symphony, the opera, or the theater, Dr. Fuller was a respected advisor in the arts community.

In recent decades, public appreciation and understanding of Asian art has increased greatly.