Charming private museum with pretensions in inverse proportion to the uniqueness of its programming. I recall with pleasure the exhibitions devoted to the costumes of Nijinsky, the oeuvre of Fairfield Porter--far from the blockbuster exhibitions (and hype) of what large city art museums favor these days.
The benefactors, Charles and Emma Frye, ensured that their own private collection be turned into a museum after their deaths and that would be always free to the public. This represents, in my opinion, the kind of public-spirited generosity that Seattities have exemplified for decades (think of Dorothy Bullitt and King-FM, et. al.).
The Frye offers varied programming as well--recitals as well as round-table discussions (witness the round-up of the best films of last year, moderated by Robert Horton (KUOW), with local movie critics of the caliber of Sheila Benson, etc.), and guest speakers. The noted author of several books on fin-de-siecle art Bram Dijkstra (Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin de Siecle Culture), spoke recently on the Franz Stucke painting in the collection (and other related artworks).
The Frye could give the Clark Art Institute (on the East Coast) a run for its money....
Some of the gems of its collection include German and French academic painting of the 19th century, including the famous Franz Stucke painting of female "Sin" as well as some works by the once very popular (and considered sentimental to the point of bathos) Bouguereau, who fell out of favor with the rise of modernism (think abstract painting) in the early 20th century..
A visit to the Frye makes for a relaxed time spent looking at various forms of the visual arts...and you usually do not have to fight the crowds as one would at SAM.