Within the century-old confines of Uptown Glassworks' warehouse, furnaces melt handfuls of kaleidoscopic frit into malleable shapes manipulated by a team of professional glass blowers. But these tradesmen don't just create works for the gallery; they also share their secrets with students in a variety of activities, from introductory courses on making beads and paperweights to advanced instruction that can be applied toward college credit or used to fix the pockmarked walls of glass houses.
During the shop's Blow-Your-Own sessions, participants apply color to clear, molten glass that has recently emerged from a 2,000-degree furnace, then blow their mixture into 1 of 20 different shapes. The next day, patrons can pick up their cooled and packaged creations, comparing their handiwork to the gallery's collection of products, which are made by more than 90 local and regional glass artists.
The Bavarian Ice Festival blends winter activities, snow sculptures, and holiday lights into two days of revelry amid Leavenworth's ivory snowflakes. Busses operated by Alki Tours depart at 8 a.m. and deliver Saturday visitors to downtown Leavenworth, where the annual Smooshing contest finds teams of four atop 8-foot wooden planks as they glide merrily down Front Street and safely away from escaped dinosaurs. Guests can relax under warm blankets and sip hot chocolate or coffee during a 40-minute horse-drawn sleigh ride. First day visitors also take in the artwork of an ice-sculpting contest, a slippery footed tug-of-war, and an ice cube scramble or frisbee sweep for the kids.
On a mission to preserve the vestiges of motorboat racing, The Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum allures wave-whizzing enthusiasts into its historic halls with a trove of racing artifacts, collections, and boating exhibits. Seven decades worth of designs are touted by a compilation of vintage hydroplanes, including boats that have won championship cups and arm-wrestled legendary propellers. An eclectic stock of memorabilia, such as photo archives, trophies, and vintage packs of personal floatation device trading cards provide glimpses into the past, with some pieces dating back to the early 1900s. Alternatively, more than 200 hours of rare films transferred from videotape cover hydroplane racing events from the 1940s up to present-day competition. The museum also lets visitors glean the stories of renowned drivers including Bill Muncey, Ron Musson, and "Wild" Bill Cantrell.
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.
Art On The Ridge’s galleries display fine art from accomplished local artists, but it’s not there to intimidate. The facility’s open philosophy for its classes and workshops revolves around encouragement: anyone can create art, and should have fun doing it. Painting classes for adults use wine to fuel creativity, whereas children’s sessions cover everything from pop-up art to classes illustrating how art links to math, science, and history. The lineup of instructors has included a fine-arts professor from Antioch University.
Local and visiting artists present their work in the gallery, introducing visitors to exhibits as wide-ranging as Mexican Oil Landscapes and Chainsaw meets Fine Art. Guests can purchase pieces or inquire about commissioning artwork from represented artists to fill their living rooms with portraits or acquire a masterfully forged signature on a report card.