Discover our neighbouring state's rich culture and history during Washington's Museum Week
Credit: Tom Gierasimczuk

Discover our neighbouring state's rich culture and history during Washington's Museum Week

Starting today, more than 50 museums in Washington State – from Bellingham to Olympia – are enticing visitors with two-for-one entry (or free entirely) and some impressive behind-the-scenes events. Here are BCLiving’s top picks, including one great art- and wine-friendly home base to lay your head after your day of exploring. See Museum Week's website for more.

Museum of History & Innovation (MOHAI), Seattle
Credit: MOHAI

Museum of History & Innovation (MOHAI), Seattle

The Museum of History & Industry, a significant upgrade to what was once a ho-hum municipal museum in the sticks, opened on Lake Union last year in a decommissioned Naval Reserve first built in 1942. The $90-million, 50,000-sq.-ft. reboot is a love letter to the city, funded by private donations with the most recent and notable being the Jeff Bezos Center for Innovation. The Amazon founder’s new centre is offering 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tours all week, with displays and experiences about how innovation shaped our region and changed the world. The takeaway? That Silicon Valley has some serious competition. With better coffee. 

Visit their website.
860 Terry Avenue North, Seattle
ph: 206.324.1126 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, Seattle

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, Seattle

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center is a free, interactive experience for the whole family to discover global challenges and innovative solutions that are improving lives. On May 16-17 and 20-23 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Museum Week visitors can see how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its partners tap innovations in science and technology to save lives and reduce poverty, with staff demonstrations of innovation ranging from water filters and coolers to prototype toilets.

Visit their website.
440 5th Avenue North, Seattle
ph: 206.709.3100

Center for Wooden Boats, Seattle

Center for Wooden Boats, Seattle

Few museums let you get wet or covered in wood shavings. That’s because the Center for Wooden Boats is a living museum, a place where visitors are encouraged to touch, build, learn and – wait for it – sail. There are wooden boats of every size and vintage for rent and, for Museum Week, visitors can get two hours for the price of one on historic rowboat rentals on stunning Lake Union, ringed as it is by the space-age urbanity of kinetic Seattle. Just make sure you show up between noon and 8 p.m. Sunset sail, anyone?

Visit their website.
1010 Valley Street, Seattle
ph: 206.382.2628

Hands On Children’s Museum, Olympia

Hands On Children’s Museum, Olympia

A bit further south but worth the trip is Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum, a place packed with kid-attention-span-sensitive interactive exhibits and programs for the whole family. For Museum Week, on May 16, 17 and 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and May 18 from noon to 3 p.m., the place presents a kid-friendly ode to the maker movement through its new MakeSpace, a place where children and families can design, create and invent using fun tools and materials. As you’d expect, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) concepts are introduced and integrated through most MakeSpace activities.

Visit their website.
414 Jefferson Street NE, Olympia
ph: 360.956.0818

The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, Mukilteo

The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, Mukilteo

The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, located between Bellingham and Seattle, offers the only public tour of a jet assembly plant in North America. For Museum Week, visitors get in free and can have all their aviation questions answered on the free guided gallery tours, which run throughout Museum Week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit their website.
8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo
ph: 425.438.8100

Whatcom Museum, Bellingham

Whatcom Museum, Bellingham

Closer to home, Bellingham’s Whatcom Museum, a destination for cultural experiences rooted in art, nature and northwest history, is highlighting a piece of B.C. On Sunday, May 18 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Haisla artist Lyle Wilson, based in Kitamaat village near the city of the same name, will present some of his uniquely conceived maps featured in an exhibit titled “Paint,” detailing the First Nations of British Columbia as well as his achievements as a painter, writer and indigenous language advocate.

Visit their website.
Sunday, May 18, 2-3:30pm
121 Prospect St., Bellingham
ph: 360.778.8930

Hotel Vintage, Seattle

Hotel Vintage, Seattle

Suggested Seattle Stay

Fresh off an ambitious reno, Seattle’s Hotel Vintage is a beauty with the bandages off. The location is in the cultural heart of the city – that insane glass library is just across the street and everything from Victorian boutiques of Pioneer Square to the shopping on Pike Street is near by. The rooms have been reimagined as Washington wine country-inspired urban retreats, with dark wood finishing and chocolate browns and crisp whites as accents. This being a Kimpton Hotels property, signature touches – like liberal use of art throughout the hotel as well as a wine o’clock every evening – make this a sophisticated, yet approachable, Seattle HQ.

Visit their website.
1100 Fifth Avenue, Seattle
ph: 800.853.3914