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Downtown Seattle Art Museums

Seattle Art & History Museums

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Covering everything from the traditional topics of art and history to the more obscure (think pinball and antique cars), Seattle-area institutions bring their subjects to life with hands-on exhibits, docent tours, and one-of-a-kind artifacts. Where else can you take an in-depth look at the life of rock icon Jimi Hendrix, ride a bike 15 feet above the ground on a 1-inch rail, and poke around a Naval destroyer that spent two decades plying the waters of the Pacific, all in one day?

Insiders Tip: When you stay at the Kimpton Alexis Hotel anytime in February, take advantage of half-price admission to more than 40 nearby museums.

Crowd Pleasers

  • Seattle Art Museum (four blocks away): As the region’s pre-eminent art museum, SAM dazzles with light-filled galleries stocked with pieces from around the world, including Australian Aboriginal art and Native American galleries.
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass (1.4 miles away): Arguably the most photogenic museum around — and Seattle’s top-rated museum on TripAdvisor — Chihuly Garden and Glass is a beautiful collection of glass works from Dale Chihuly, who was born in nearby Tacoma.
  • MoPOP (1.5 miles away): Formerly known as Experience Music Project, the Paul Allen–owned museum explores the ideas that fuel contemporary pop culture, with current exhibits focused on Nirvana, horror films, and indie video games.
  • Museum of History & Industry (2 miles away): Find out how Seattle went from wild wilderness to world-class city at MOHAI in South Lake Union, full of interactive exhibits and entertaining displays.

For All Ages

  • Seattle Aquarium (6 blocks away): Spot coastal birds in an open-air exhibit, touch a sea urchin, and get your dose of cuteness for the day as you watch the adorable sea otters groom themselves at the Seattle Aquarium, right on the waterfront.
  • Pacific Science Center (1.4 miles away): With the largest domed laser theater in the world, two IMAX screens, a tropical butterfly house, and a huge area that has tons of interactive activities that explore health and well-being, the Pacific Science Center is a favorite for inquisitive kids and adults alike.
  • Burke Museum (5 miles away): Dig into natural and cultural history at this museum on the University of Washington campus, where you can check out the first dinosaur fossil ever found in the state (it belonged to a theropod), go on a 545-million-year journey through Washington’s history, and admire handmade masks from around the Pacific Rim.
  • The Museum of Flight (7 miles away): An aviation buff’s dream, The Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, with 10 fighter aircraft from World War II, a supersonic Concorde from 1978, and an in-depth look at the history of the Boeing Company.

Under the Radar

  • USS Turner Joy Naval Destroyer (ferry terminal is three blocks away): Hop the one-hour ferry to Bremerton and visit this Naval destroyer, where you can climb the ladders, squeeze through the hatches, and see the inner workings of a vessel that played a role in the Vietnam War.
  • Living Computers Museum + Labs (2 miles away): Seattle is known worldwide for its tech influence, and there’s no better place to geek out than at LCM+L, where you can have hands-on experiences with computer technology from the past 50 years, plus explore artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, self-driving cars, and more.
  • Henry Art Gallery (4.5 miles away): Known for contemporary art exhibits that push the envelope, the Henry is currently exhibiting photographs from Chuck Close, known for his photorealism paintings, and Transhirstory in 99 Objects , which narrates the history of transgender communities in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Nordic Heritage Museum (7 miles away): In the neighborhood of Ballard, the Nordic Heritage Museum celebrates the art, culture, and traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

See the full list of participating museums at seattlemuseummonth.com.