Museums can get a bad rap. There is just something about the word that conjures up a picture of very quiet people sitting on uncomfortable benches staring at paintings. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t really translate into “fun for the whole family.”
While Seattle has several traditional museums that provide an opportunity to sit and reflect, it also has several modern, edgy, and just downright fun museums that are certain to please the entire family.
Museum of Flight
The massive Museum of Flight (one of the largest aerospace collections in the country) is an absolute must visit, even for those who have a bias for terra firma. Highlights include the rare opportunity to walk on the first Air Force One and a chance to peek inside one of only four Concordes on display outside of Europe, a treat that used to be only available to the travelers who could afford a ticket on the iconic jet.
Experience Music Project (EMP)
Those undulating pieces of shiny metal at the base of the space needle are the “walls” of Experience Music Project, a museum “dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, science fiction, and pop culture.” The rotating exhibits, such as “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds,” always draw a crowd. But most people come to see the permanent collection of 236 guitars, pay homage to Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix, and ogle the Nirvana paraphernalia.
Viewfinder Tip: Consider buying a Seattle City Pass, which can save you a ton of money on entrance to major Seattle attractions, including the Experience Music Project.
Living Computer Museum – Seattle is known as an innovation hub for technology, so the city is a perfect place for a museum that preserves and displays working examples of technological innovations of the past. Because if you’ve never seen a mainframe, you can’t fully appreciate the marvel that is the device you are reading this post on.
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)
Located right in the heart of Downtown, just steps away from the Four Season Hotel Seattle and Pike Place Market, is the gem of Seattle’s museum scene. Seattle Art Museum has something for everyone; from the sleek permanent installation “MIRROR” (by Doug Aitken) that adorns the outside of the building to the world renowned collection of Native American artifacts, you are certain to find something that resonates with you.
Olympic Sculpture Park – Along the shores of Seattle’s waterfront, with views of the majestic Olympic Mountains, sits the 9-acre outdoor sculpture park. The collection is free to explore, the sculptures are magnificent (Alexander Calder’s “Eagle” seems to be perfectly suited for Seattle), and the views are breathtaking, so there is really no reason to not add this to your Seattle must-do list. If you are visiting in the summer, you can also enjoy live music and food trucks in the park.
Seattle Pinball Museum – If you have a dream of being a pinball wizard (or already are), head to Seattle’s International District (known to locals as the ID). Amidst the ID’s outstanding restaurants and cultural experiences is a collection of 50+ vintage pinball machines. The best part is you can leave your quarters at home; the price of admission covers all the play you can handle.
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) – The south end of Lake Union is where you will find MOHAI, which “highlights the region’s tradition of innovation and imagination.” The museum has some excellent permanent exhibits, like the “Bezos Center for Innovation,” and really fun temporary exhibits, like the recent “Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.”
What kind of museum most interests you?