Seattle’s many museums offer visitors an indoor escape on the city’s rainiest days. Some of the major museums include Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and Frye Art Museum, but there is so much more here to explore.
1.Living Computers Museum and Labs
© Living Computers Museum + Labs
Living Computers Museum + Labs is the brainchild of Microsoft co-founder and Seattle resident Paul Allen. His dream was to provide one-of-a-kind hands-on computer technology experiences starting with the 1960s to today. The museum represents a complete history of computing and has the largest collection in the world of restored supercomputers, mainframes, microcomputers, and minicomputers – all usable. There are even augmented reality, robotics, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, video-game making, and more experiences in the main gallery. On the museum’s main floor, visitors can participate in learning labs to learn or practice new skills. History buffs and computer geeks will love the historical significance of this museum.
2245 First Avenue South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-342-2020
2.Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
© Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
The collections at Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture reflect groundbreaking research in biology, geology, paleontology, and cultural studies. Within those collections, visitors will find 16 million objects from across the globe and specifically from the area around the Pacific Northwest. Visitors will be able to see Northwest Native Art, flora, fauna, minerals, anthropology and natural resources of Washington and beyond. Check out stories like How Dinosaurs Lived, History of the Ocean, and Salish Heritage, all currently in stages of development for a fall reopening. The Burke Store offers visitors gifts of the Northwest. The Museum is closed until its transition to the New Burke Museum, fall 2019.
4300 15th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-543-7907
3.Center for Wooden Boats
Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats is a fun experience for the whole family. Located in popular South Lake Union, the museum is dedicated to Seattle’s maritime history. They recently completed construction of the Wagner Education Center, including the Bill Garden Boatshop where they hold classes and workshops teaching marine related skills. There is also a Boathouse Gallery where visitors can see exhibits about the city’s maritime history. Lessons at the Center include learning to tie knots and perform other marine related skills. Visitors can also volunteer at the Boatshop to help maintain the wooden boats.
1010 Valley Street, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-382-2628
4.Center on Contemporary Art
The Center on Contemporary Art is a nonprofit dedicated to the creative expression of contemporary art. They’ve been producing events and operating galleries throughout Seattle for more than 35 years. Past exhibits have included Dispossessed, Storefronts, and You Got the Look (jewelry), among many others. Legacy, a 2017 exhibit, was devoted to the gallery’s contemporary art over the past 35 years. Upcoming events include the gallery’s annual members’ show displaying the juried works of local member artists. The gallery is open Thursdays through Saturdays. Extended hours apply to the first Thursday of every month when the gallery participates in Pioneer Square Art Walk and stays open until 9:00 p.m.
114 Third Avenue South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-728-1980
5.Photographic Center Northwest
© Photographic Center Northwest
Photographic Center Northwest has been delivering photographic history to Seattle residents and visitors since 1988. It’s evolution from small photography school to leading photographic educational institution in Seattle has been profound. The non-profit dedicated to helping people see the world differently is located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Visitors can expect exhibitions like past displays: Notions of Home, All Power: Visual Legacies of the Black Panther Party, and Me and My Selfie, along with annual juried exhibitions. Aspiring and seasoned photographers can take classes, workshops, or certificate programs to hone their craft. The center opens at noon, Mondays through Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
900 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-720-7222
6.Museum of Pop Culture
© Oksana Perkins/stock.adobe.com
Museum of Pop Culture, which is known locally as MoPOP, was initiated by Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder. The pop culture enthusiast envisioned a fun museum experience for the whole family. Seattle Center campus is home to both the Space Needle and adjacent MoPOP. The building’s brilliant exterior is a prelude to what’s inside. Exhibitions are fluid and change like the rhythms of music and culture. Exhibitions, both past and present include representations of Marvel super heroes, science fiction, myths and fantasy, horror films, and video games. Visitors will appreciate tributes to musical artists as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. There is a Holodome for immersive virtual realities, and a Sound Lab to record music.
325 5th Avenue North, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-770-2700
7.Frye Art Museum
© Frye Art Museum
Frye Art Museum is located in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle, just to the east of downtown. It’s a mix of old money mansions, urban high-rise apartments, and numerous hospitals that have given the neighborhood the nickname Pill Hill. Frye Art Museum is one of the highlights of this neighborhood, presenting contemporary artworks primarily of local, American, and European painters, although their collection of contemporary art continues to evolve. Visitors will find the founding collection of artwork in the Frye Salon. Recent exhibitions have included works like Tschabalala Self, which explores the intersectionality of gender and race. Guests can expect free public tours, a museum store, and a café. The admission-free museum is closed on Mondays.
704 Terry Avenue, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-622-9250
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8.Giant Shoe Museum
The Giant Shoe Museum uses the term ‘museum’ loosely. In homage to peep show history, this museum uses that sideshow-style presentation to attract passersby to an array of giant shoes. The museum is located below the arcade level inside Seattle’s popular Pike Place Market. Visitors will recognize it by its playful boardwalk display announcing “The Greatest Shoe on Earth.” There are four wooden steps guests will use to look through the peepholes and see the giant shoes for 25 cents. Shoes are from an actual collection by Seattle resident, Danny Eskenazi. This is a must-see for those drawn to the odd and unusual, one-of-a-kind attractions.
1501 Pike Place, #424, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-623-2870
9.Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
© Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park celebrates the stories, trails, and boomtowns resulting from the iconic Klondike Gold Rush. Visitors will learn about the famous 1897-1898 gold rush, the Company L Buffalo Soldiers, and more. There are four areas to the park, the first being the Seattle Unit in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle (Klondike Gold Rush Museum), and the other three being in Alaska. Seattle was the major provisions port for those headed to strike it rich in Alaska, and promoted itself as “Gateway to the Gold Fields.” The Klondike Gold Rush Museum preserves Seattle’s role in the Klondike Gold Rush. The free, interactive museum is open daily.
319 2nd Avenue, South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-220-4240
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10.Last Resort Fire Department Museum
© Last Resort Fire Department Museum
Last Resort Fire Department Museum is located in Pioneer Square in the Seattle Fire Department Headquarters. The 1928 ten-bay fire station presents eight rigs, including models from 1834, 1899, 1907, 1916, 1950, and 1958. Rigs rotate with several on display at any one time. Other items on display include vintage nozzles, helmets, extinguishers, uniforms, badges, alarm journals, and historic photographs. Visitors will see station furnishings, first-aid equipment, alarm boxes and other vintage firefighting equipment. Also on display are historic accounts of famous fires like Ballard’s 1958 Seattle Cedar Lumber Manufacturing plant. The plan is to add additional displays like the 1889 Great Seattle Fire and the 1943 Frye Packing Plant fire. The museum is open Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
301 2nd Avenue South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-783-4474
11.Log House Museum
© Log House Museum
The Log House Museum is dedicated to celebrating Duwamish peninsula history, the Birthplace of Seattle. Operated by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, the restored Log House Museum is situated in a 1904 log building near Alki Beach. The museum hosts rotating exhibits, including the recent Telling Our Westside Stories three-part series. Outside the museum, guests will find a garden of native plants and an Admiral totem pole that has also been restored. The museum preserves the hyper-local heritage of the peninsula through exhibits, education, and advocacy. This museum is open Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 4:00 p.m. Visitors can also call to arrange visits by appointment.
3003 61st Avenue SW, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-938-5293
12.Connections Museum Seattle
Located in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, Connections Museum Seattle is the former Museum of Communications. It is dedicated to telling the evolving story of telecommunications. Computer geeks and history buffs will appreciate the working equipment and switches at this museum. Visitors can peruse museum exhibits that include Mechanical Switching Systems, Electronic Switching Systems, The Outside Plant (cables, poles, splicing equipment, etc.), Telephones, Telegraphs & Teletypes, and Other Equipment. The museum is only open on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Visitors should allow a minimum of one hour to visit all the exhibits in the two-story museum – longer for tech buffs. The museum is not suitable for children under 12, and admission is by donation.
7000 East Marginal Way South, Seattle WA, Phone: 206-767-3012
13.Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight, a Seattle, Washington, non-profit, is a private museum dedicated to archiving air and space exploration. It was founded in 1965, and shortly thereafter achieved full accreditation from the overseeing organization of the American Alliance of Museums. The museum features an expansive collection of flight artifacts and objects, aircraft, and spacecraft on exhibit. Highlights of the museum include a NASA Full Fuselage Trainer, an Lockheed M-21 Blackbird, a fascinating XCOR Lync Spaceplane, Lunar Focus - an exhibit dedicated to moon travel, and Apollo 17 Mission Models. There is also the 737 Airliner Theater with shows visitors are sure to learn from and love.
9404 East Marginal Way South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-764-5700
14.Museum of History and Industry
© Museum of History and Industry
Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry in South Lake Union delves not only into the city’s past, but also connects to the present, and envisions the future. There are two permanent exhibitions that are the focal point of the museum. Visitors can trace the historic path of Seattle from Pacific Northwest wilderness to today’s modern, urban metropolis in True Northwest: The Seattle Journey. Visitors will be able to explore 25 displays in this exhibit. The second equally intriguing permanent exhibition is Bezos Center for Innovation. This is where visitors can examine the vision of Seattle’s future. Kids will love investigating MOHAI with free Exploration and Innovation Packs to guide them.
860 Terry Avenue North, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-324-1126
15.Nordic Heritage Museum
© Nordic Heritage Museum
Where better to put the Nordic Heritage Museum than in the heart of a Scandinavian neighborhood. Once a fishing, milling, and boat-building neighborhood, Ballard is now one of Seattle’s trendiest neighborhoods, but they haven’t forgotten their roots. The Nordic Heritage Museum is dedicated to sharing Nordic history and culture through preserving collections, exhibiting objects and art, and providing cultural and educational experiences. It also serves as a gathering place for the community. The Museum is open every day, but Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays. Visitors can arrange in advance for the Nordic Journeys tour. Amenities include the Museum Store and Freya Café
2655 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-789-5707
16.Northwest African American Museum
Northwest African American Museum is located in Seattle’s Central District, a vibrant multi-cultural neighborhood that was the childhood home of Jimi Hendrix. The museum, housed in the 1909 former Colman School building, overlooks the musician’s namesake park, Jimi Hendrix Park. NAAM presents the unfolding story of African Americans and their journey to the Northwest, via slavery through recent immigration. The museum tells their evolving story through programs and exhibits featuring music, literature, visual arts, crafts, history, and events. The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Docent-led tours are available with a three-day notice.
2300 South Massachusetts Street, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-518-6000
17.Northwest Nikkei Museum
© Northwest Nikkei Museum
Northwest Nikkei Museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the Japanese culture of Issei elders, and Japanese American Nikkei culture and heritage. They aim to tell the stories of Japanese pioneers to America and create a bridge of respect between generations. The museum preserves and exhibits photos, objects, and artifacts that explore the Pacific Northwest Nikkei heritage. Exhibitions have included Bases as Bridges that explored baseball from Japan to Seattle, Art Behind Barbed Wire that displayed Japanese American art created in internment camps of WWII, and Unsettled/Resettled: Seattle’s Hunt Hostel. The museum hosts public events, classes, programs, and a Japanese language school.
1414 South Weller Street, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-568-7114
18.Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center
© Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center
Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center has been serving Seattle residents and visitors since 1964. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting Northwest Coast and Puget Sound maritime heritage. Their historic floating fleet is found at Lake Union Park, and includes vessels deemed National Historic Landmarks. They host a plethora of annual festivals, hands-on public tours, music programs, overnight experiences, programs for children and families, and more. Visitors will learn about the ships, stories, and music of workboat culture. Their extensive collections offer a complete picture of northwest maritime history. The museum is open weekends and by appointment.
860 Terry Avenue North, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-477-9800
19.Pacific Science Center
© Pacific Science Center
Pacific Science Center, an independent, non-profit science center, is nestled between Downtown Seattle, Washington, and the city’s famous Seattle Center. The science center’s aim is to develop visitors’ curiosity about science, spark a passion for discovery, and encourage experimentation and critical thinking. Highlights of the center include a Laser Dome that combines laser imagery and sound in shows like Laser Cardi B and Laser ODESZA, plus an IMAX theater with popular movies, documentaries, and other educational films. Visitors will also find numerous events at the museum that include Final Fridays, Today at PacSci, and Science in the City.
200 2nd Avenue North, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-443-2001
20.Seattle Art Museum
© Anthony Torres/stock.adobe.com
Seattle Art Museum is located in Seattle’s downtown area on First Avenue. The impressive museum operates a few of the city’s major art facilities like Seattle Asian Art Museum that can be found in Volunteer Park at Capitol Hill. Another is Olympic Sculpture Park situated on Seattle’s waterfront. The main museum hosts fantastic exhibitions throughout the year including shows like Gentleman Warrior: Art of the Samurai and Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer. The museum offers several free public tours that are included in the admission. Private paid tours are also available. There is a SAM Shop featuring museum quality items for sale, and a high quality eatery called Taste. Many accessible accommodations are available for everyone to have the best museum experience.
1300 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-654-3100
21.Seattle Asian Art Museum
The Seattle Asian Art Museum is one of three Seattle museums under the umbrella of Seattle Art Museum (SAM). It houses a vast collection of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, southeast Asian, and Himalayan art. Located in a gorgeous art deco building, visitors will find this museum centrally located in Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park. The 13,650-square-foot museum is expanding by 3,600 square feet, and is getting modern upgrades including studios and more gallery space. The expansion project began in 2018. When it reopens in 2019, visitors can expect an array of works across mediums that span several centuries. It will be open Wednesdays through Sundays.
1400 East Prospect Street, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-654-3100
22.Seattle Children’s Museum
Seattle Children’s Museum is located on the expansive campus of the Seattle Center. Imaginative plan and hands-on are the name of the game in this 22,000-square-foot museum. It was specifically designed for kids under ten, and of course, their families. The interactive museum follows the framework of The 40 Assets, which traces a developmental path for kids to grow into happy, healthy, compassionate adults. Cog City delves into the concepts of cause and effect, Global Village is culture-centric play, and Dunn Lumber Construction Zone lets kids participate in hands-on construction. There are seven other interactive play areas providing hours of educational fun. This museum pairs perfectly with a trip on the downtown Seattle Center Monorail.
305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-441-1768
23.Seattle Pinball Museum
© Seattle Pinball Museum
Visitors will find the unique Seattle Pinball Museum in Seattle’s Chinatown neighborhood. This museum grew out of one couple’s passion for collecting the machines over 55 years. Now, their legacy is on display in a museum of their creation, entertaining Seattle locals and visitors alike. Seattle Pinball Museum features 54 pinball machines in total, although only around 30 are on display at any one time. Each classic machine is fully playable. classic pinball machines. Since the games in the collection rotate frequently, visitors will have a new experience with each visit. The $13 ticket price includes unlimited play. There are snacks, vintage sodas, and craft beer available for purchase.
501 Maynard Avenue South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-623-0759
24.Coast Guard Museum Northwest
The Coast Guard Museum Northwest is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and displaying Coast Guard memorabilia and photographs for the public. The museum collection includes thousands of items including over 15,000 photographs, uniforms, binnacles, ships’ wheels, bouy and lighthouse lenses, and more. There are finely-crafted large-scale models of different Coast Guard cutters, items from captured WWII vessels, and a large Coast Guard patch collection.. Beyond museum exhibitions and displays, there is an expansive resource library including 2,500 historical documents and 3,000 books and periodicals. The family-friendly museum is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Museum hours are 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Pier 36, Base Seattle, 1519 Alaskan Way South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-217-6993
24 Best Seattle Museums & Galleries
- Living Computers Museum and Labs, Photo: Living Computers Museum + Labs
- Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Photo: Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
- Center for Wooden Boats, Photo: Crin/stock.adobe.com
- Center on Contemporary Art, Photo: torook/stock.adobe.com
- Photographic Center Northwest, Photo: Photographic Center Northwest
- Museum of Pop Culture, Photo: Oksana Perkins/stock.adobe.com
- Frye Art Museum, Photo: Frye Art Museum
- Giant Shoe Museum, Photo: eevl/stock.adobe.com
- Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Last Resort Fire Department Museum, Photo: Last Resort Fire Department Museum
- Log House Museum, Photo: Log House Museum
- Connections Museum Seattle, Photo: Justimagine/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of Flight, Photo: followbobbriggs/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of History and Industry, Photo: Museum of History and Industry
- Nordic Heritage Museum, Photo: Nordic Heritage Museum
- Northwest African American Museum, Photo: siriporn1982/stock.adobe.com
- Northwest Nikkei Museum, Photo: Northwest Nikkei Museum
- Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center, Photo: Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center
- Pacific Science Center, Photo: Pacific Science Center
- Seattle Art Museum, Photo: Anthony Torres/stock.adobe.com
- Seattle Asian Art Museum, Photo: wetchawut/stock.adobe.com
- Seattle Children’s Museum, Photo: EdNurg/stock.adobe.com
- Seattle Pinball Museum, Photo: Seattle Pinball Museum
- Coast Guard Museum Northwest, Photo: Hedgehog/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Bart Claeys/stock.adobe.com