Category Archives: Museums

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Volunteer Park
1400 East Prospect Street
Seattle, WA 98112

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One lovely but watery Wednesday late in March, we took an Australian visitor to the museum, the wonderful father of our beloved son-in-law, who had put it on his list of places to visit in Seattle. The museum is small, which might be a good thing because almost every piece in it is emotionally moving.  Trust me, even if you grew up whiter than mayonnaise in the heart of the Midwest (as I did), you will feel deeply connected to the monk suddenly surprised by enlightenment.


You will stand in front of the multiply-paneled moon reflecting itself on water and know that you have stood on that spot in your real life, both literally and figuratively.


You will hear the loud yakking music of crows, the background song of so many of our days and early mornings, when you stand in front of the well-known panels of crows, scheduled to be taken down from the permanent exhibit, if what one of the guards told us is true.  If you get there before June 30 and walk through the sweet Hometown Boy exhibit, even though you are whiter than Wonderbread and grew up in the mitten-shaped chamber of the heartland, you will experience Liu Xiaodong’s hometown as your own–the one you remember walking through when you were 10.


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Museum of History and Industry

860 Terry Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98109

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Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is a tribute to the creative energy and enterprise of the Pacific Northwest.  As are most museums these days, it is also an information-gathering site, inviting viewers to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences as they move through the space, listening to others who have left their marks on our region.


My favorite spaces in the museum are touch screens where you can animate a person’s image and hear what she has to say about innovation.  Although some of the people on these screens are predictable—well-known regional entrepreneurs and MacArthur Award winners, for example—there are others who are unexpected, such as people talking about the role of creativity in skateboarding, early education, and DNA discoveries.   Museum goers are invited to contribute their own talking screen, as if to say creativity can come from anywhere where knowledge, passion, and vision reside together.

There is much to see at MOHAI about the history of our place, and much to do, too, including lifting the hill off Denny Hill.  A reason to get there before July 6th is so you can see the exhibit entitled Revealing Queer, which tracks growth and change in Puget Sound’s  LGBTQ community between 1969 and 2012, the year when marriage equality came to Washington State.  The exhibit is fascinating but perhaps more interesting and moving are the notes that people visiting the exhibit have posted about their lives today.  I hope the museum has a staff researcher who is doing something with those notes!


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