The Gates Foundation Brings World Health Home

A new interactive exhibit helps connect Seattleites with the problems people face worlds away.
A Gates Foundation visitor tries her hand at carrying water

Seattleites are nothing if not socially aware, but it can still be difficult for us to fully grasp the grave problems facing people who live a world away. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hopes to help bridge that gap with its new visitor center, located on the organizational campus near Seattle Center. The interactive space, which opened in February, is designed to inform and educate visitors about the foundation’s charitable projects—both locally and around the world—while building empathy by way of tangible examples: If you can’t imagine what it’s like to have to haul your own fresh water home twice a day (as residents of drought-afflicted areas must) try lugging the two 16-pound buckets on exhibit.

And instead of taking the center’s comfortable restrooms for granted, first examine the life-size photo (on a bathroom stall door) of the primitive facilities to which other cultures are accustomed. Exhibits are designed to help visitors explore solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems, and on the way out, guests are invited to write down pledges for making the world a better place. Displayed en masse, these pledges inspire a sense of hope—and most importantly, a call to action.

Tue.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Free. The Gates Foundation Visitor Center, 440 Fifth Ave. N; 206.709.3100; visitorcenter.gatesfoundation.org

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