Explore the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

Experience Washington state history! Read an expert's recommendations for can

Category: Arts + Events Articles


Michael Herschensohn, A-Y-P Exposition Centennial Program Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, shares his recommendations for can’t-miss Centennial activities around Seattle this year.

38th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival
In May, the 38th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival officially kicks off the A-Y-P Centennial celebration with a recreation of the opening of the 1909 A-Y-P Exposition at Fisher Green, Saturday, May 23.  A-Y-P is also the Festival’s cultural focus: visitors can take in performances, exhibits, and demonstrations by Scandinavians, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Alaska Natives; ethnic groups that made Seattle their home in the early 1900s and were featured at the Expo. 
5/22-5/25. Free. Seattle Center; 206.684.7300;  nwfolklife.org

Mt. Rainier Climb Photos at the Washington State History Museum
If you’re in Tacoma (perhaps taking in Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices), look for Asahel Curtis’ photos of the 1909 Mountaineers’ Club Mount Rainier expedition tucked in among the suffrage campaign displays.  Curtis’ photos of the expedition, which included both Mountaineers and suffragists, show climbers carrying an A-Y-P banner and a “Votes for Women” banner.
2/28-9/27.  Prices and times vary.  Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253.272.3500

Photographing the Fair: The A-Y-P Photos of Frank H. Nowell and Others
Official fair photographer Frank H. Nowell photographed the buildings, events, people, and activities on the A-Y-P grounds; his photos were used for pre-fair publicity, souvenirs, postcards and guidebooks during the fair.  MOHAI will display over 50 Nowell photographs, most produced directly from the museum’s collection of glass plate negatives, with accompanying items such as fair maps and newspaper clippings.
3/08-12/31.  Prices and times vary. Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave E; 206.324.1126

A-Y-P: Indigenous Voices Reply at the Burke Museum
Head to Washington’s oldest museum, The Burke (founded in 1885), for a history lesson that reaches into the present. Featuring ethnographic objects originally exhibited at the fair, “Indigenous Voices” examines the ways that people and cultures of the Pacific Rim were represented at A-Y-P.  But this is no passive reflection: The Burke has invited contemporary indigenous artists to create works responding to the A-Y-P-era objects, challenging visitors to consider how much has really changed in 100 years.
5/30-11/29. Prices and times vary. University of Washington; 206.543.5590; Washington.edu/burkemuseum

Restoration of the Nordic Spirit
On August 30, 1909, a Viking ship sailed from Kirkland to Portage Bay in celebration of A-Y-P’s Nordic Day.  This spring, the restored Nordic Spirit, a late 18th- or 19th-century Norwegian fishing boat will be unveiled May 17 during the Norwegian Constitution Day celebration in Ballard. The Spirit will make its home at the Nordic Heritage Museum (with guest appearances at the Northwest Folklife Festival and Ballard Seafood Fest), and—if all goes well—ultimately retrace the 1909 sailing route.
Prices and times vary.