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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hands On Children's Museum opens a window to the world for youngsters. Its exhibits are all about interactive learning, whether that means role playing at a farmer's market, operating a play fire engine, or climbing a tree house to build a flying machine. These activities are part of 150 total exhibits in nine themed galleries that focus on healthy living, the arts, building, and outdoor exploration. The Puget Sound gallery features an eight-foot vortex and two-story cargo ship to teach kids about sea life, and a science table brings the miniature world around us to life with an HD digital microscope.