Founded in the 1970s as a grass-roots service group with the belief that art establishes connections between people and their neighborhood, the Fremont Arts Council is both instigator and mastermind behind many of the neighborhood’s annual events. These include the homegrown, spectacular summer Solstice Parade and Festival, May Day, Trolloween, the autumn equinox Luminata around Green Lake Park and the Feast of the Winter Solstice. The nonprofit organization also commissioned and maintains the famous Fremont Troll statue under the Aurora Bridge, along with the whimsical six figures that make up the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture. Headquartered in a vintage brick warehouse marked by a former smokestack emblazoned with the word “Solstice” in gold letters, the group also regularly hosts meetings and workshops with local and international artists.
Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry, known around town by its MOHAI acronym, recently relocated to a waterfront location in South Lake Union, and is now housed in the former Naval Reserve Armory building. It’s a smart change for the popular historical and educational spot, considering its new proximity to some of Seattle’s biggest businesses: outdoor retailer REI and Amazon.com. The museum’s permanent collection traces the city’s history, with nods to the city’s 1962 World’s Fair, the surprising 1999 WTO riots, and the birth and growth of aerospace giant Boeing. Temporary exhibits address topics as diverse as Seattle-specific artists, the history of gay culture citywide or the many engineering feats that have helped a region filled with bodies of water and steep slopes stay connected. The newly-opened Bezos Center for Innovation explores Seattle’s history of entrepreneurship and engages guests in interactive activities to elicit their inner CEO.
Tucked inside an art deco building within Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park, the economically-sized Seattle Asian Art Museum showcases cultural artifacts from China, Japan, Korea and India. From silk screens to sculpture, scrolls to woodwork, the museum nods at history at every turn. It also includes a children’s room that lets little ones learn by doing and creating. Outside, Noguchi’s “Black Sun” sculpture lines a decorative pool within Volunteer Park, making for a wonderful photo vantage point that includes Seattle’s Space Needle in the background. Through the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas, the museum even offers a Saturday lecture series on visual and literary arts topics. Bargain-hunters take note: The museum is free to all visitors the first Thursday of each month.
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.
The Children's Museum, Seattle inspires curiosity and creativity in children between 10 months and 10 years with 22,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits that explore science, arts, and cultural education. The museum's collection of permanent exhibits boosts brainpower with feats of engineering, miniature global villages, an aquarium, and a theater, where kids can don costumes and reenact famous monologues from Sponge Bob. The museum heightens the joy of discovery with such activities as summer camps, birthday parties, partnership outreach, and after-hours events.
At 520 feet tall, the Space Needle was once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi. Here, though, the spectacular, panoramic view make the east’s mighty river look like a rambling brook. To the west, the waters of Puget Sound and Elliott Bay glimmer in the sunlight. To the south, Mount Rainier peeks over the skyscrapers and neighborhoods of downtown Seattle, sprawled all the way to Lake Union and the distant ridges of the Cascade Mountain Range.
Just 20 feet below the observation deck, diners at SkyCity Restaurant let the 360-degree panorama revolve around them. Powered by a single 1.5-horsepower motor, SkyCity was only the second revolving restaurant in the world when it was built. Today, there are dozens of such restaurants worldwide, but SkyCity continues to distinguish itself with a carefully curated menu by Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield. Specializing in Pacific Northwest cuisine, Chef Maxfield was invited to cook a six-course meal at the James Beard House in October 2013—a testament to his work at SkyCity, whose menu includes everything from jumbo sea scallops to pear-and-brie agnolotti. For dessert, diners are invited to soak up the sweet views from the observation deck free of charge.
Since its construction in 1962, the Space Needle has become one of America’s most iconic architectural achievements. To prepare for the 1962 World’s Fair, crews constructed the Space Needle in a mere 400 days, earning the structure the unofficial title of “400 Day Wonder.” More than a million visitors visit the Needle every year, whether to eat at SkyCity, survey the Emerald City, or simply stand within the Earth’s last line of defense should a giant balloon ever descend on the Northwest.