7 Must-See Seattle Museums

Notable works and artifacts at must-visit museums

By Chris Robinson


June 10, 2019

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the June 2019 issue, as part of the 150 Must-Do Summer Experiences cover story. Click here to subscribe.

> Inspired by a western hemlock tree, John Grade’s 105-foot-long “Middle Fork” is the stunning culmination of a project in which volunteers arranged thousands of pieces of reclaimed cedar to create this natural puzzle, now a centerpiece of the Seattle Art Museum. Times and prices vary. Downtown, seattleartmuseum.org

> Walk in the footsteps of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson while aboard a decommissioned Air Force One, proudly parked on the tarmac of the Aviation Pavilion at the Museum of Flight. Times and prices vary. Georgetown, museumofflight.org

> The Frye Salon exhibit displays approximately 150 paintings—ornately framed bucolic English landscapes and still lifes—at the Frye Art Museum. Have a seat on one of the upholstered benches and take it all in. Times vary. Free. First Hill, fryemuseum.org

> Treasured by the public since the Asian Art Museum’s opening in 1933, a pair of ancient marble Chinese camels once resided at the entrance of the Volunteer Park museum, a branch of the Seattle Art Museum. Although the sculptures were eventually moved inside, two concrete replicas now guard the entry. Currently under renovation, the museum is slated to reopen in November. Capitol Hill, seattleartmuseum.org/visit/asian-art-museum

James Turrell’s “Skyspace” at the Henry on the University of Washington campus. Photo by Lara Swimmer

> Meander, marvel and meditate within James Turrell’s permanent installation “Skyspace” at The Henry art gallery, best witnessed after dark when a spectrum of color is emitted by thousands of LEDs throughout the glass panel. Times and prices vary. University District, henryart.org

> The glowing Rainier “R” was once an iconic landmark atop the now-repurposed Rainier Brewery building and easily seen from Interstate 5 just south of the downtown. You can see it today at the Museum of History & Industry. Times and prices vary. South Lake Union, mohai.org

> Established in 2010, the Seattle Pinball Museum has one of the largest-growing collections of antique gaming machines on the West Coast. The games were produced by various pinball companies, with a niche collection of band-branded games that include Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses and The Beatles. Times and prices vary. Chinatown–International District, seattlepinballmuseum.com


Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ ‘Carpe Fin’ Tells Its Story at Seattle Art Museum

Commissioned by SAM, the new piece is a 6-by-19-foot watercolor mural condensing a Haida folktale into one immense color-drenched panel

This article appears in print in the November 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe. Sensing an affinity between the iconography of his First Nation art tradition and the boldness and sweep of the Japanese film/graphic-novel visual style known as manga, Haida visual artist and British Columbia resident Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas combines the two—“committed to,” as he puts it,…


Seattle Fall Arts Preview: Inside the New Burke Museum

The new Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture invites visitors to interact with the cultures and objects that document our world

Rendering of the new Burke Museum’s lively lower lobby


National Nordic Museum Photo Exhibit Is a Must-See for Pop Culture and History Buffs

A soon-to-close exhibit showcases the powerful lens of Swedish photographer Hasse Persson

IRON FIST: President Nixon was one of many political and pop cultural figures captured on camera by Swedish photojournalist Hasse Persson; an exhibit of his work is at the National Nordic Museum


Behind-the-Scenes With MoPop’s Fashion Exhibit Curators

Internationally acclaimed creative duo Sofia Hedman and Serge Martynov talk about 'A Queen Within,' their creative process and what’s ahead for the fashion industry

Regardless of your personal interest in the fashion industry, one fact is certain: What we wear can be a reflection of our mood or communicate a personal statement. That goes to the heart of the Museum of Pop Culture’s (MoPop) latest exhibit: A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes. The exhibit curators seem to want you to…