The Soul Pole Standing Tall Again at the Douglass-Truth Branch

Soul Pole being lifted up before being restalled On Tuesday morning, April 5, a small crowd of neighbors, Library staff and journalists gathered outside the Douglass-Truth Branch to see a very welcome event: A forklift lowering the carefully wrapped 21-foot tall Soul Pole artwork into its base on the lawn of the Library.

Soul Pole close-up
A close-up of the Soul Pole as it’s being lowered into its base
The Soul Pole standing tall again at the Douglass-Truth Branch
The Soul Pole standing tall again at the Douglass-Truth Branch

The Soul Pole has stood tall in that base since 1973, minus the last year, when it was temporarily taken down for conservation work. It was returning home.

By 1 p.m., the workers from Artech Fine Art Services finished unwrapping the Soul Pole and bolting it into its base.

At 2 p.m., under mostly blue skies, the Library hosted a short program to honor the Soul Pole’s history and conservation work, featuring speakers with deep connections to the Central District community and the history and significance of the Soul Pole.

Watch the whole program below or at SeattleChannel.org.

Chief Librarian Tom Fay presented welcoming remarks, noting how grateful the Library was to see the Soul Pole standing tall again at 23rd and Yesler. Continue reading “The Soul Pole Standing Tall Again at the Douglass-Truth Branch”

Visit Museums For Free Through the Library: New Partners

Museum of History and Industry, from above
Museum of History and Industry, from above. Courtesy of MOHAI

Seattle-area residents who have a card with The Seattle Public Library can visit more museums for free, courtesy of the Library’s Museum Pass program (www.spl.org/MuseumPass).

We are excited to share that five Seattle museums have rejoined the program: the Center for Wooden Boats, the Henry Art Gallery, Museum of History & Industry, the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum (which share a pass).

Including these partners, the Library is now offering passes to 11 cultural institutions:

Burke Museum
Center for Wooden Boats
Henry Art Gallery
Museum of Flight
Museum of History & Industry
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
National Nordic Museum
Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Art Museum & Seattle Asian Art Museum (shared pass)
Wing Luke Museum

Continue reading “Visit Museums For Free Through the Library: New Partners”

50+ Free Things You Can Do Through The Seattle Public Library

The interior of the Central LibraryWant to learn a language, improve your job skills, find free one-on-one tutoring, download new songs, learn web design, or find a read-aloud for your child?

You can do all of these things and much more through The Seattle Public Library. A dozen or so of the activities in this list do not even require a Library card.

Happy exploring, escaping and learning! And yes, this is just a sampling. Find many more programs, services, and, of course, our collections, at spl.org and at our 27 locations. (Note: We will regularly update this list, so check back. Add your favorite thing that we missed in the comments!) Continue reading “50+ Free Things You Can Do Through The Seattle Public Library”

Soul Pole Stories: Conservation and Restoration

A section of the Soul Pole at the Douglass-Truth Branch of The Seattle Public Library
One of the figures carved in the Soul Pole. The sculpture was designed by Seattle Rotary Boys Club artists to represent 400 years of African American history in the United States.

As mentioned in our “first Soul Pole story,” the historic sculpture at the Library’s Douglass-Truth Branch in the Central District was deinstalled in 2021 so that it could undergo conservation work.

The goal was to preserve the piece so that it could be reinstalled at its original location at the corner of 23rd Avenue and E. Yesler Way, and available for the community to enjoy for decades to come.

The Library contracted with Artech Fine Art Services, an organization with extensive experience in restoration and preservation, to manage the project. They worked with Corine Landrieu of Landrieu Conservation, one of the Northwest’s top conservators.

A woman wearing a mask talking about a tall wooden sculpture called the Soul Pole
Conservationist Corine Landrieu explains her work on the Soul Pole, with a focus of preserving “the integrity of the object as much as possible.”

Now that the conservation work is complete and the Soul Pole will soon be reinstalled, we asked Corine Landrieu and Artech’s Kate Dawson to share highlights of the project, and what visitors will (and will not) notice about changes to the Soul Pole after it stands tall at the Douglass-Truth Branch once again, representing 400 years of African-American history.

How has the Soul Pole’s cultural importance informed your approach?

Kate Dawson: The Soul Pole’s cultural significance and its great value in the community informed the route that we took and, of course, the great care and amount of work that went into this project. Including a conservator like Corine was an important piece of that plan. Corine has worked on many projects with culturally significant objects.

We knew from the beginning that maintaining community access was a key goal – making sure that visitors could continue to see the Soul Pole outside Douglass-Truth and interact with it. So we were looking for that balance of preserving it in a way that it could still be interacted with in its original spot. Continue reading “Soul Pole Stories: Conservation and Restoration”

Recent Books Celebrate Magnolia Branch Architect

The life and work of architect Paul Hayden Kirk, designer of The Seattle Public Library’s Magnolia Branch, is commanding renewed interest due to the publication of two new books: Paul Hayden Kirk and the Rise of the Northwest Modern by Seattle author and filmmaker Dale Kutzera, and Paul Hayden Kirk and the Puget Sound School by Grant Hildebrand, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Washington.

Kirk was a pioneer and leading light of the distinctive Northwest modernist architectural style that flourished between the 1940s and 1970s. This style was influenced by a traditional Japanese aesthetic and emphasized simple and elegant designs that fit into the natural landscape.

Our Magnolia Branch is exemplary of this style, with its hallmark use of long beams of natural wood and large windows that fill the building with light and invite the outside in. Continue reading “Recent Books Celebrate Magnolia Branch Architect”