The Tacoma Art Museum’s primary mission is to connect people through art. “By creating a dynamic museum that engages inspires, and builds community through art” (1), the museum sought to act as a national role model for future regional and local museums. Additionally, a goal was laid out to amass the largest and most prestigious collection of Northwest art specifically, and to be a central figure in the historical preservation of the area’s visual arts. As such, the collections feature over 4,500 works, with some of the most famous parts of the collection including the Haub Family Collection (300 pieces of work stretching over two centuries), and the biggest collection of studio art jewelry by artists of the Northwest, etc.
An important section of the museum architectural design and land area is the popular main plaza that surrounds the main building. “Tacoma Art Museum anchors the gateway into the city’s downtown area, but its site is framed by an interstate highway, a busy street, and an industrial water inlet” (2). Initially, the plaza was unsightly and mostly deserted, receiving little public use. The museum officials and the city of Tacoma envisioned a more appealing and user-friendly entrance into the city where pedestrians would simultaneously be more encouraged to travel to the city, gatherings and performances could be supported, and stormwater runoff could be handled more effectively. Consequently, they teamed up to make changes and provide funds with the help of private donors to transform the plaza into a proper gateway to the main city district. New areas were made for public gatherings and creative art activity, in addition to combining art and the permeable urban surfaces to alleviate heavy water runoff. Completed recently in 2014, outdoor exhibitions, gatherings, and performances are now available to visitors of the Tacoma Art Museum where they previously were not, enhancing the overall experience (2).