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Facts: Henry Art Gallery

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Henry Art Gallery is a museum of contemporary art and ideas, bringing together a broad range of experiences and points of view. Founded in 1927, the Henry serves the Northwest as its premier museum of contemporary art and attracts more than 50,000 visitors in person and 150,000 online annually. Free to students, staff, and faculty, the Henry provides a platform for discovery and inspiration through art.

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About the Museum

Henry Art Gallery presents contemporary art exhibitions by a multi-national roster of emerging and mid-career artists. Known for taking risks and for allowing space for uncertain outcome, the museum anticipates the conversations and opinions that will be important and relevant in the field, and brings together the artists, creatives, and thinkers who are at the forefront of contemporary culture. The museum organizes and hosts nationally acclaimed exhibitions such as MUSE: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête, Martha Friedman: Castoffs, and Doris Totten Chase: Changing Forms. Other recent exhibitions include commissions by regional, national, and international artists including Pae White, Kraft Duntz featuring Dawn Cerny, and Demian DinéYazhi´.

Opened in 1927, the Henry is Washington’s first art museum. The original building was designed by Seattle architect Carl F. Gould, who was also the founder and director of the University’s School of Architecture. Seventy years later, in 1997, the museum hired Gwathmey Siegel & Associates to  undertake a major expansion to quadruple the size of the museum to better present and preserve its collections and to increase access to our exhibitions and public programs. Light Reign, a site-specific immersive sculpture by artist James Turrell, was installed in 2003. The Skyspace has become a destination for students, residents, and visitors to Seattle.



The Henry’s permanent collection numbers more than 27,500 objects. The museum’s collection continues to grow with recent acquisitions of the Albert Feldmann Collection of European Master Prints and the Washington Art Consortium Collection of American Photography 1970-1980. The collection was founded with a gift of 178 19th century landscape paintings from the personal collection of the museum’s founders, Horace C. and Susan Henry, who charged the museum with collecting and showing the “art of its time.”

The Henry collection includes an extensive photography collection with holdings dating from the birth of the medium to the current decade; a print collection that offers a complete timeline of the history of printmaking; the contemporary collection that comprises sculpture, installations, video, and works on paper; and the historical collection of costumes and textiles from around the globe. Collections of note are the Joseph R. and Elaine Monsen Collection of photography; contemporary works donated by William and Ruth True; and the Thomas and Frances Blakemore Collection of Japanese folk textiles. The Henry seeks to represent a diversity of artists working across a range of artistic mediums, and looks ahead to emerging trends in contemporary art and culture.

The Henry’s collection can be explored online at



Recent exhibitions include:

  • Martha Friedman: Castoffs
  • Edgar Arceneaux: Library of Black Lies
  • Between Bodies
  • Fun. No Fun. Kraft Duntz featuring Dawn Cerny
  • Doris Totten Chase: Changing Forms
  • Senga Nengundi: Improvisational Gestures
  • Pae White: Command-Shift-4
  • The Brink: Demian DinéYazhi´
  • Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Draws


Community Engagement

University of Washington. Admission to the Henry is free to faculty, staff, and students. The Henry welcomes the UW community to all lectures, openings, and events. Each year, the Henry coordinates the School of Art + Art History + Design’s Master of Fine Arts and Master of Design thesis exhibition. Since 2013, the Henry has partnered with the School of Art + Art History + Design in their presentation of ART 361/595: Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice, a public lecture series and class which brings together artists and thinkers on the forefront of contemporary art practice to share ideas, raise questions, and engage with the UW community and the community at large.

The Eleanor Henry Reed Collection Study Center. The Eleanor Henry Reed Collection Study Center—the only such facility in the region—makes the permanent collection accessible to scholars, educators, students, artists, and the community, free of charge. Faculty members are encouraged to supplement their courses by inviting students to view original objects in the galleries and in the Study Center. The Study Center offers access to object and artist files and has a reference library of more than 5,000 volumes, making it an invaluable resource in discovering the stories behind the objects and the artists who created them.

On average, the Study Center hosts 1,500 visitors a year, many of those from UW disciplines across campus, including the School of Art + Art History + Design, the Schools of Nursing and Medicine, the School of Drama, and the Division of French & Italian Studies.

Public Programs. The Henry produces a wide range of public programs, including screenings, lectures, readings, performances, educational explorations, and public engagement initiatives. Programs are themed around issues derived from exhibitions or developed to showcase intellectual leaders in contemporary art and culture. Through public programs, the Henry has recently collaborated with a range of university departments, programs, and initiatives, including the Dance Program, the Meany Center for the Performing Arts, the School of Art + Art History + Design, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, the College of Built Environments, Urban@UW initiative, and the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell.

Henry Teen Art Collective. The Henry Teen Art Collective is a year-long teen leadership program comprised of fifteen youth from Seattle schools. The students identify topics relevant to their communities, create print and digital content, explore ways to connect youth to contemporary thought, and develop new forms of engagement with teen audiences.

Families. Families across the city participate in monthly programs such as ArtVentures, which draw hundreds of participants each year. In these artist-led programs, families explore and create together—across generations—and discover new ways of playing, thinking, and experimenting with  contemporary art and ideas.

K-12 School Visits. The Henry works with community youth organizations and K-12 educators to develop guided and self-guided visits, workshops, and training sessions customized to each group’s needs. Henry staff offers pre-visit information, orientations, and guided experiences that prioritize multi-modal forms of learning and conversation sparked by contemporary ideas.

Average Annual Stats

  • 50,000 Visitors, including 13,000 students
  • 10-12 Exhibitions, featuring 50-200 artists from around the globe
  • 1,500 Students and scholars visiting the Collection Study Center
  • 4,250 Children, teens, and adults attending school, youth, and family programs
  • 12,500 People attending public programs and special events
  • 60% Receiving free admission


Staff and Students

The Henry is supported by a staff of dedicated and creative employees to fulfill its mission. The museum serves as an experiential learning site for an average of 20 interns and work-study students who fill vital roles in the curatorial, collections, education, fundraising, and communications departments. Internships are available in studio art, museum studies, art history, and design.



Henry Art Gallery
Box 351410
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2281


Fact sheet last updated: December 2018