Seattle Art Museum Supporters History
1985-1995: The Beginning
In 1985, Sally B. Nordstrom, while serving as a member of the Seattle Art Museum board, instigated a fundraising effort among her friends for new art museum space in downtown Seattle. Sally gathered twenty-five Seattle-area women at the home of Nancy Alvord for the first meeting of what would soon be named Seattle Art Museum Supporters. Within two months, these ladies formed committees and successfully scheduled a full calendar of events with the goal of raising money for SAM while building friendships.
This founding group voted to limit its membership to 80, allowing them to continue to gather in homes and small artistic venues while planning fundraising events.
A milestone was the creation of a SAMS partnership with Nordstrom. The first joint Nordstrom-SAMS event, a fashion tea, raised over $20,000.
SAMS donated nearly $700,000 to the Seattle Art Museum during this first decade.
1995-2005: The Middle Years
The interest in joining SAMS continued to grow. Facing a lengthy waitlist in 1995, SAMS created two levels of membership: Active and Sustainer. This allowed active members to transition into a less-demanding position within SAMS after serving as an active volunteer for three years, making room for new members to join the organization at a faster rate.
The fundraising efforts of SAMS expanded to include three major fundraisers each year: Fall Fundraiser—an evening cocktail party, Gardens of Art—a spring luncheon, and Nordstrom Designer Preview—SAMS’ continuing partnership with Nordstrom.
SAMS members work hard to raise over 1 million dollars to underwrite the capital campaign for the museum’s imminent expansion.
By the end of 2005, SAMS’ cumulative donations to the museum surpassed 3 million dollars.
2005-present: Our Third Decade and Beyond
SAMS officers and executive team members continue to meet on the second Wednesday of each month, September through June. On the third Wednesday of these same months, the general membership meets to enjoy a private collection, an artist’s studio, or other artistic educational opportunity while hearing about the current fundraising efforts and associated activities.
Excitement surrounding the 2007 opening of the new Olympic Sculpture Park on Seattle’s waterfront followed by the re-opening of the downtown Seattle Art Museum, offered SAMS many opportunities to create entertaining fundraising events and educational experiences for members.
As SAMS continued to grow and thrive, there was increased interest in expanding opportunities for members to socialize outside of the monthly meetings. Formed in 2013, a Special Events Committee began planning events for our members such as attending Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker, enjoying a holiday luncheon and vintage fashion show at the Women’s University Club, and seeing a play at Seattle’s ACT Theatre. After a well-attended trip by ferry to tour the new Bainbridge Island Art Museum, a travel committee developed. SAMS ladies traveled to Portland in 2015, Vancouver, BC in 2016, and San Francisco in 2017.
To date, SAMS’ collective contribution to Seattle Art Museum approaches 7 million dollars.
SAMS Founding Members
SAMS Volunteers of the Year
1995 Mischa Leendersten
2007 Lisa Dowling
Seattle Art Museum Supporters Contacts
c/o Seattle Art Museum
SAMS is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization benefiting the Seattle Art Museum
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