It will surprise absolutely no-one that I am a museum fiend. I’ve been to some weird, wonderful and wacky museums in my time – from the classic Louvre to more risqué Musee de l’Erotisme in Paris, the world-renowned British Museum, the slightly-bizarre Surgical Science Museum in Chicago or the incredibly delicious Délices Érable & Cie in Quebec City. Yes, a museum dedicated to maple syrup. With samples!
Whether its art, culture, science, history or something totally random, I love that I always walk away having learnt something new – and gained an appreciation for a new topic or the city I’m visiting.
Needless to say, museums are always a big part of my travels too.
Being so close to Seattle, I’ve had the opportunity to check out many of the city’s galleries and exhibitions. It’s especially great if the day is a little dreary. And let’s be honest, that happens a lot in Seattle!
In celebration of Seattle Museum Month – a very cool promotion offering visitors half price museum tickets in February – I’ve put together a list of my favourites so far. If you’re planning a visit to the Emerald City this month, it’s absolutely worth checking out a few of these!
Chihuly Garden & Glass
Without a doubt one of the most interesting art displays I’ve ever seen.
Standing at the foot of the Space Needle at the Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass showcases the work of renowned Washington-based artist Dale Chihuly – one of the most successful and innovative blown glass artists of our time. The colour and intricacy of the gallery displays will take your breath away, but it’s outside in the garden where it becomes clear how beautifully glass can be manipulated to partner with its environment. I’ve visited three times now – and it’s still as impressive as the first!
Learn more (spoiler alert!): My visit to Chihuly Garden & Glass
Museum of Pop Culture
MoPop (formerly known as the EMP) is a cultural icon of our city. It covers everything from horror, sci-fi and fantasy film to the history of guitar, and music of Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. I love the indie video game room, as well as interactive sections where you can learn to play drums, guitar, piano or a DJ mix deck (you just might have to battle the kids for a spot). MoPop really brings the best of pop culture together, and it’s so much fun.
There’s always an interesting feature exhibit too. On our first visit there was a showcase of Star Wars costumes. Right now it’s all about Star Trek.
Seattle Art Museum
In the heart of downtown, the SAM is one of the best art museums in the country.
World-class permanent collections feature contemporary, Islamic, indigenous, African, European and Ancient Art. There’s also really varied touring exhibits which have included The Impressionists, and a tribute to fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent.
Seattle Pinball Museum
Venture into the International District for a more interactive museum experience at the Seattle Pinball Museum. The entry fee offers unlimited games of more than 50 pinball machines. You can literally play pinball through the ages, with some machines as old as 1934 – right up to the latest and greatest.
Asian Art Museum
The exhibitions and collections here focus on all kinds of Asian art. There’s ancient archaeological artefacts like ceramics, statues, jade jewellery and intricate snuff boxes – as well as modern art and beautiful oil paintings.
Located in Capitol Hill’s beautiful Volunteer Park, be sure to linger afterward to wander through the Conservatory, climb the water tower for awesome skyline views and snap some pics of Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture ‘Black Sun’.
Museum of Flight
South of the city, the Museum of Flight is one of the largest Air and Space museums in the USA. It has an impressive fleet of aircraft on show including the first 747, a retired Air Force One, a Concorde supersonic airline and planes from both world wars. Beyond the planes themselves, there’s plenty about space exploration as well as flying in wartime – I really appreciated the detail about the role of female pilots in World War II as I didn’t know much about that at all.
Free Museums In Seattle
If you can’t swing a visit for Museum Month, don’t despair. The city has a number of awesome museums that are free year round, including (but not limited to):
- Frye Art Museum – an interesting mix of 19th/20th century European art, along with local showcases. Another of my favourites!
- Olympic Sculpture Park – visit on a clear day for epic mountain views alongside the sculptures
- Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park – local history and Seattle’s involvement in the Gold Rush
- Bainbridge Island Museum of Art – the perfect addition to an island escape
Are you a Seattle resident with no plans to stay in a downtown hotel? Many of the admission-fee museums have free entry days each month! Check out their individual websites for more information.
Not all heroes wear capes, just like not all ‘museums’ get the credit they deserve.
OBAMA at Café Racer (University District): The Official Bad Art Museum of Art features some quirky and hilarious pieces to giggle at while you grab a coffee!
Giant Shoe Museum (Downtown): Drop a few quarters here in Pike Place Market to behold a sight you never knew you wanted to see. It’s always a hilarious talking point when we bring visitors to the market.
About Seattle Museum Month
Props to Visit Seattle for capitalising on our usually cold, wet February. What a perfect month to retreat inside a museum!
The city is offering half price museum admission to more than 40 different museums from February 1-28 – if you stay in one of these downtown Seattle hotels. For information on participating museums, which includes all my favourite Seattle museums as well as the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo, head to the Seattle Museum Month website.
Do you visit museums when you travel? What are your favourites?
Full disclosure: this is not a sponsored post – I’m just really keen on museums and love that there are so many awesome offerings in Seattle!
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