The Seattle Asian Art Museum closed its doors Sunday evening, Feb. 26, and won’t reopen them for two years while the structure undergoes a major renovation and expansion.

Large crowds toured the museum last weekend, with free entry provided by the Seattle Art Museum.

It will take at least six months to move museum operations and the art collection, according to the Seattle Art Museum, as well as preparing the site before construction begins.

SAM recently resolved a query from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre that put a “project pause” on the expansion back in January.

While the total expansion is more than 12,500 square feet, much of that square footage will be spread across three stories of a new addition to the southeast side of the museum, increasing the building’s footprint by 3,600 square feet. Many residents protested any loss of park space for the project.

SAM issued a response to questions posed by Aguirre on Jan. 23. Rachel Schulkin with SPR reported last week the department was still considering the response.

“The responses that SAAM provided to the issues raised by the community display an alignment with the mission and values of Seattle Parks and Recreation,” Schulkin wrote in an email response to the Capitol Hill Times on Monday. “The museum contributes to the use and activation of Volunteer Park and is an asset of our parks system that we treasure. We look forward to continuing public discussions about the project and have communicated to SAAM that the project pause has been lifted.”

The museum expansion previously in question will include offices, a new meeting space and a 1,220-square-foot education and art-making space. SAM provided 251 programs at the museum in 2015, serving 17,000 people.

SPR Ltr to SAM Re Asian Art Museum Project 2-23-17 by branax2000 on Scribd