As visitors wander among The Museum of Flight's more than 150 historic aircraft and spacecraft, they can chart humanity's flight path from the earliest balloons to the latest space shuttles?and marvel at how aviation has changed everything from warfare to transportation to rescue operations. Celebrity planes include a supersonic SR-71 Blackbird, built for a Cold War mission and capable of zipping from Los Angeles to New York in just 58 minutes, and a former Air Force One Boeing 707 that served as a flying oval office for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. After visiting a retired supersonic Concorde?one of only 20 ever built by the British?guests move from the airpark and the great gallery of planes to the museum?s other exhibits. Here, thousands of artifacts?uniforms, engines, and even a carved white elephant that astronaut Michael Collins carried into space on the Apollo 11 mission?enlighten as they lead groups to a kids' flight zone and a collection of to-scale plane models. Visitors can also walk through the Red Barn, the original manufacturing facility of the Boeing Company.
The museum's numerous interactive exhibits give users a more visceral sense of what it was like to fly the machines that surround them. The X-Pilot simulator lets visitors practice flying a classic WWII fighter or a modern jet rather than the saddled pigeons they?re used to. Space: Exploring the New Frontier extends your reach to galactic horizons as you play Mission Control to a landing space shuttle or explore a replica of the International Space Station's Destiny Research Laboratory. Here, inventions such as the Apollo 17 lunar module ascent-stage mockup wow aspiring astronauts alongside a contemporary technological duplicate of Sputnik 1, likely made by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden aren't just places with chilly winters and beautiful sea ports. They're the five Nordic countries, and since 1980, Nordic Heritage Museum has been the only museum in the U.S. to celebrate the contributions of immigrants from that area. Today the museum continues that tradition by sharing their rich history through carefully cultivated exhibits.
Size: three floors of permanent exhibits displaying part of a 65,000-piece collection that includes artifacts, fine art, and music
Immigration Stories: Lifelike dioramas spin the tale of a Scandinavian family immigrating to the U.S. in the 19th century. The exhibit traces their path—from their entrance at Ellis Island through their travel west to Ballard—with scenes from a post office, a blacksmith shop, and a family home.
Common Bonds: Five third-floor galleries dedicated to the people from each Nordic country celebrate immigrant contributions achievements in the Pacific Northwest.
Past Exhibits: Danish Modern: Design for Living displayed mid-century modern era furniture designed by Danish artists, including Hans Wegner's famed Round Chair.
Special Programs and Events: At Craft School, artisans teach techniques such as woodcarving and photo preservation. During the annual Nordic Christmas celebration Yulefest, visitors shop while feasting on traditional Scandinavian fare before paying Santa a visit.
Six Things to Know About The Center for Wooden Boats
At The Center for Wooden Boats, you can explore vessels from days of yore in exhibits before taking to the water in a classic sail or row boat yourself. Read on to learn more about this unique place that’s half-museum, half-boat-rental facility:
It's a living museum. This means you won't find any "no touching" signs. In fact, touching is encouraged. The museum believes that by getting up close and personal with the historical boats, you'll better appreciate them and learn more overall.
The collection is always changing. That's because the center's workers are constantly acquiring and repairing new boats.
Classes are available for everyone. Kids, families, and adults can take classes on subjects such as sailing, toy-boat building, woodworking, or attracting mermaids with carefully chosen sea chanteys.
You can get your hands dirty. There’s an on-site a workshop where visitors can learn traditional wooden-boat maintenance skills.
You can donate your old boat to support the museum. Donations are either put on display or sold to raise money for the center.
No stuffy dress code required. "This is an opportunity for people to sort of be a member of a yacht club," founder Dick Wagner told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "You meet a lot of neat people, and you don't have to wear a blue blazer."
Established by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the Living Computer Museum features fully operational, vintage computers to highlight the achievements of early pioneers in computing. The museum allows the public to trace the history of computing by interacting with these milestones in engineering, from the mainframes of the 1960s to the modern XBOX One. Museum engineers skillfully restore machines to working order, while the museum staff tie together the exhibits with daily tours.
Size: 15,000 square feet
Interactive activities: Write your own BASIC programs, play vintage computer games, and use a Teletype.
Pro tip: Museum staffers are around to give tutorials on how to use the different computers.
Onsite library: Vintage books, manuals, and magazines available for reading alongside modern books on computing history.
For kids: The BitZone teaches kids and families about computing concepts through interactive displays geared toward youngsters.
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.