Museums in Des Moines

Select Local Merchants

The Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum celebrates the thrill and wonder of hydroplane racing, and its the only museum of its kind in the United States. Along with historical books, race programs, trophies, and photos from the last century, its collection of hydroplanes from the past 70 years tells the story of the watery sport. The staff has brought seven famous Gold Cup and Harmsworth winners back to their fully operational states, and will even take members out on the water in one of their historical vessels for a Ride of a Lifetime.

Offering a glimpse back in time, they boast than 200 hours of racing footage dating back to the 1940s and share stories of legendary drivers including Mira Slovak and "Wild" Bill Cantrell, who was famous for solving crimes with the help of his artificially intelligent hydroplane.

However, the museum isn't just about the past. A lineup of regular events invites folks to show off their powerboats and hot rods to fellow enthusiasts, and races bring the excitement of the sport to the present day as boats cut through the waves vying for titles.

5917 S 196th St
Kent,
WA
US

The Museum of Glass is the only museum west of the Mississippi to exclusively showcase one of art's most delicate media: glass. The museum provides a dynamic learning environment to appreciate the medium of glass through creative experiences, collections, and exhibitions. Stop by the Hot Shop, housed in the museum's 90-foot-tall stainless-steel dome, to watch professional artists as they blow and shape molten glass into artistic sculptures or thought bubbles. Be sure to examine the museum's outdoor installations, including Martin Blank's Fluent Steps, the colorful Chihluly Bridge of Glass, and the Water Forest, a series of towering acrylic tubes filled with rising and falling water.

1801 Dock St
Tacoma,
WA
US

The handsome, 12,000-square-foot museum is home to four exhibition galleries and a permanent collection that focuses on the wealth of regional talent in the Northwest, in addition to housing Japanese woodblock prints and European paintings. Tacoma's own Dale Chihuly fills a gallery space with his permanent installation of playful and fantastical glasswork, much of it inspired by his love for the sea. Brush up on your goose-whispering skills at the Secret Language of Animals exhibit, a family-friendly flock of approximately 40 paintings, sculptures, and videos depicting rodents, birds, horses, dogs, crazy uncles, and more.

1701 Pacific Ave
Tacoma,
WA
US

Once you answer the riddles of the history museum's half-man, half-gecko entryway guardian, you'll pass through the monumental doorway arch, revealing 106,000 square feet of high-tech displays and interactive, multi-sensory exhibits. Current featured exhibits give you a glimpse of Sasquatch in Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch (through June 27), exquisitely carved chesspieces from all over the world's gameboard in The Many Shapes of Chess (through November 21), and in-depth explorations of the state's cultural touchstones in Icons of Washington History (through July 3), as well as gorgeous digital photographs and folk art. But be sure to make time to stroll through the museum's permanent exhibits, where you can explore a coalmine, ride in a covered wagon, learn phrases from Native American languages, eavesdrop on Lewis and Clark's breakup phone calls with their girlfriends, and visit a massive model railroad, complete with a tiny, doomed Casey Jones.

1911 Pacific Ave
Tacoma,
WA
US

Though the historical gems of a museum tend to be its artifacts, the vintage autos of the LeMay Family Collection at Marymount only tell half the story. The Marymount location opened in 1923 as a boys' military school, which became a center for English education in 1975 and eventually the home to the family's vintage automobiles.

Beginning with a few vehicles gathered by Harold and Nancy LeMay in the 1960s, the collection has grown into a one-time Guinness World Record holder of more than 1,900 vehicles. Many of these classics, including a powder-blue 1950 Chrysler Windsor, rest fully restored alongside toys, antiques, and farm equipment within the year-round museum.

325 152nd St. E
Tacoma,
WA
US

EMP Museum is a tribute to cultural icons as well as a breeding ground for the next generation of musicians and societal shapers. Here, attendees don?t just stand before exhibits that explore Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, but throw down their own musical chops in interactive exhibits such as Sound Lab, where they riff on an electric guitar, bang on drums, and tweak acoustics behind a mixing console. On Stage also gets guests to grip instruments, but under the hot lights of the stage, where they can pretend to entertain legions of fans or accompany their nephew?s birthday party.

The museum also curates rotating exhibits that celebrate modern cultural achievements. These have showcased the impact of Nirvana?s career alongside historic artifacts as diverse as Hendrix?s Stratocaster from Woodstock and Neo?s black futuristic coat from Matrix Reloaded. As home to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, the museum also spotlights luminaries such as Ray Bradbury and Steven Spielberg, who have shaped a generation?s imagination while warning people about the perils of suppressing ingenuity, ideas, and viewpoints.

All of the educational programming and special events unfold inside the architectural jewel that is the EMP Museum. Designed by Frank O. Gehry, the building?s 3,000 stainless-steel panels shimmer and seemingly swing through the air. This fluidity, which can alter its appearance depending on the time of day and light conditions, is about ?reminding audiences that music and culture is constantly evolving,? as the museum?s website states.

325 5th Ave N
Seattle,
WA
US