A little museum with big aspirations: The new San Juan Islands Museum of Art, built in a former emergency medical center, brings exhibitions of Goya and Ai Weiwei to Friday Harbor.
Three Puget Sound communities with high aspirations and energetic patrons have recently opened art museums close to their respective waterfronts: Winslow, Edmonds and Friday Harbor. Can a boat-to-the-art tour be far behind?
Friday Harbor is a particularly interesting case in point. Long before its current, architecturally striking building opened just a brief walk from the ferry dock, there was an entity called the San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA), a mostly volunteer group of local art lovers who mounted small, artistically ambitious exhibitions in vacant storefronts, sometimes with long gaps between shows. Seeking more permanent digs, in 2013 the museum purchased an unprepossessing emergency medical center which, after being imaginatively opened out with glass atriums and weathered-steel cladding, officially launched in February 2015 with an exhibition of glass art by Northwest legend William Morris.