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Enjoying the free art exhibits in the Seattle Art Museum lobby

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Seattle is the center of a thriving art scene in the Pacific Northwest and serves as a portal between North America and the larger world of art and culture that makes up the Pacific Rim. The best place to gain an over view of this larger art scene is the Seattle Art Museum (SAM).

SAM is located on 1st Avenue between Union and University. From Pike Place Market walk one block south along 1st avenue and the museum will be on your left. The museum faces the Four Seasons Hotel and infamous Lusty Lady.

Admission costs $19.50 for adults to enter on a regular day with free admission on the first Thursday of the month. There are discounts for seniors, military personnel, students, teenagers and children under 12.

The museum's galleries feature an assorted collection from ancient and classical sculpture to contemporary work. SAM is also well known for its large collection of Asian art, which is mostly housed in the Seattle Asian Art Museum on Capitol Hill.

For the low budget traveler the best spot in the museum is the lobby. Open to the public, this extensive space covers half of a city block along first avenue and features an array of permanent and rotating art.

The main piece in the lobby is the sculpture Inopportune: Stage One by Cia Guo-Qiang. The sculpture is composed of a series of identical white cars suspended from the ceiling with flashing lights shoot from their sides.

In addition to this eye grabbing sculpture, the lobby hosts a wide range of art. Proceeding past the escalators and turning right, you will come to a wall of art glass from around the world.

Further down the hallway is a series of murals. This includes an all-see eye watching over the museum's rear entrance and a massive painting of a scream child.

The hall way lets out onto the museum's grand staircase. A series of granite camels and soldiers from China's Qing dynasty decorate the staircase. The staircase also features another mural and several interactive areas as well.

The staircase ends at the bottom of the new lobby. Take the escalators up to the main lobby, SAM Cafe and gift shop. You can also exit onto first avenue to view the Hammering Man and continue on to Pioneer Square.

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