There is an epicenter of culture in Seattle, a small proximity in the heart of the city filled with museums, parks, and sculpture – all accessible with just a short walk from a single parking spot. Usually an area like this in the city screams generic, money gobbling, and *skip* to me. However in Seattle I was genuinely impressed by the big time attractions. I didn’t feel the need to ride to the top of the Space Needle (there are plenty of other spots to get a great view of the city – for free!),
but it was really neat to walk around the iconic structure which lies between two of the museums I found most interesting!
Museum of Pop Culture, 325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
Science fiction, rock and roll, video games, and fashion. MoPOP is one of the coolest museums I have been to in a long time, established by Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft). There is something for everyone here, but all of the facets things felt just for me starting straight from the truly magnificent architecture of the building.
Seriously, the place is absurd and stunning – hunks of reflective metals all in different colors, wavy misshapen hunks, and a monorail runs through it. It’s a real trip, and terribly hard to capture in a photograph. What geared me into visiting the museum before I knew many details at all was the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, sci-fi is my favorite genre so I couldn’t resist! From Tolkien to Vonnegut, my heart was a flutter. A current exhibit at my time of visit called Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction held objects from all over the imaginative galaxy. A squeal of joy may have escaped when I saw actual daleks and cybermen.
Adjacent was the Can’t Look Away, Lure of Horror Films exhibit covering movies. I’m a sucker for old time horror movies like The Blob, Night of the Living Dead, and Omega Man which some of which were acknowledged here. After the frightful basement exhibit, I went upstairs to get my groove on in the Guitar Gallery.
Did I hear Muddy Waters coming out of the speakers? Yes! This room had a collection of amazing guitars – old and new, and owned by some superstars such as Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton. Next door the current exhibit was Hendrix Abroad, super score! Jimmy was a Seattle native, but rose to stardom in London. He was a musical nomad playing all over the world, never staying in one place for much more than a month. One of my all time favorite songs by Hendrix is Highway Chile:
His guitar slung across his back, his dusty boots is his Cadillac
Flamin’ hair just a blowin’ in the wind, ain’t seen a bed in so long it’s a sin
He left home when he was seventeen, the rest of the world he had longed to see
But everybody knows the boss, a rolling stone who gathers no moss
But you’d probably call him a tramp, but it goes a little deeper than that
He’s a highway chile
His travels come to life in the colorful exhibit through concert posters, outrageous outfits, luggage, and personal letters. Next door learn more about another lost soul of rock and roll, Kurt Cobain from man of Nirvana also born in Washington State. Taking Punk to the Masses goes through the albums that grunged up PNW and the world. Just seeing that old striped sweater shirt brought me back to my angsty youth where Kurt was a true hero of mine.
As if this visit couldn’t get any better, I was just going to cross the hallway into the Indie Game Revolution exhibit sponsored by Nintendo. After reading so much information it felt good to lose myself in these games, very different from any I’d ever played before. Beautiful scenes with crazy graphics and perplexing puzzles, names like Night in the Woods, Pony Island, and Gardenarium (look them up they’re nuts) – reminding me vaguely of Beautiful Katamari.
Ahh this was quite fun. If it’s classic Nintendo games you’re craving, there were a few to play in the large entryway. The last exhibit that completely wowed me was WOW – World of Wearable Art. Even if you’re someone who isn’t into fashion, this isn’t a trip to Forever21. This is art at its finest.
Horse faced, church wearing, lobster clawed, hedgehog bra-ed – don’t worry no animals were harmed in the creation of these masterpieces.
FYI just a few short weeks ago when I visited, this museum went by different name Experience Music Project Museum more commonly referred to as simple EMP. Thankfully the wonderful contents of the museum haven’t changed!
Chihuly Garden and Glass, 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109
Admittedly this museum was smaller than I imagined, especially for the price tag. However sometimes smaller exhibits can be more personal. On my first run through I kind of ran right through. I swam with the swarms of people from one room to another, not spending much time at one piece. When I found myself at the end of the line I was stunned. Not ready to leave yet, I sat and watched each of the five videos, four minutes long. After that I had more knowledge on the subject, a deeper understanding behind the art. I would recommend watching them first.
I found I had two personal connections to Chihuly. One, I visited an island off of Venice, Murano, which is known for its glassblowing. He studied the art there. Two, when visiting Las Vegas I walked around some of the major casinos and didn’t know it at the time – but I was completely dazzled by the glass flowers that covered the ceiling of the Bellagio – there is a matching one at the museum.
I was ready to walk around the exhibit for a second time, slowly. After passing by a funky contemporary design,
the first room was dedicated to the natives of the Northwest, where Chihuly is from – focusing on baskets.
From there on there are mostly natural motifs, most astounding is his Mille Fiori means a thousand flowers, inspired by his mothers garden. It must have been a beautiful place because this garden of glass is awe-inspiring.
The next jaw-dropping work is a fifteen foot tower with incredible detail portraying the sea. Starfish, squid, crabs, and jellyfish all nestled into a cyclone! Chihuly admits his obsession with conservatories, so it is only natural that his gallery would hold a glass house. There is an incredible view of the Space Needle amongst the vibrant blossoms.
Pictures of many conservatories from around the world are posted on a nearby wall, including my local Bronx Botanical Gardens! From here you can access the outside garden. Chihuly likes to work with nature, almost make his glass a part of it, an idea which is very evident in the garden. In a Dr. Seuss world of wonder, are these glass or plants?
There is an option of visiting the garden at night, I can only dream of what the glass looks like lit up by moonlight. Also, I had to take a peek into the Collections Café inside the museum. I have no idea what the food is like, but I has got the most amazing décor! Once I slowed it down, took time to look and learn, I really enjoyed this experience.
Olympic Sculpture Park, 2901 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
From the pervious museums, a leisurely half mile walk down towards the water brings you to some open air art. The park isn’t too expansive, but there are some great works, woodsy paths, waterfront paths, skyline views – what more could you want?
Oh yeah, it’s free to enter. My favorite was definitely the larger than life face looking out, probably for birds, over the bay.
There is a connection to the lengthy Elliot Bay trail if you’re looking for a longer excursion!