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Best Museums to Visit in Seattle

Seattle is a great city with so much to offer. Just a look at the many museums in the city could keep your vacation itinerary packed for days. To help you figure out how to prioritize your time, here is a ranking of the best museums in Seattle and what they have to offer.

Museums to Visit in Seattle

EMP Museum:

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By far the most fun, engaging, and interactive museum in Seattle, the Experience Music Project offers a look into popular culture. The building itself is an icon, a unique piece of architecture designed by Frank Gehry.  There are many changing exhibits in addition to the permanent collection, currently including exhibits on Nirvana, the music video, and icons of science fiction. You can start your own band in the sound labs and “On Stage,” making the museum fun for the whole family.

Seattle Art Museum:

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In the heart of downtown, the permanent collection here is enough to keep you busy for a day, but the museum also offers excellent special exhibits from all over the world, currently, there is Modernism in the Pacific Northwest and upcoming is Pop Departures.

Chihuly Garden and Glass:

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The master of blown glass’s work can be seen in over 200 museums worldwide but his home state hosts the most comprehensive collection of his art. There are eight galleries including Chihuly’s earliest, most experimental, and most famous works. The 4,500 square foot glasshouse hosts a 100-foot-long red, yellow, orange, and amber sculpture.

Museum of Flight:

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The resting place of the original Air Force One hosts an extensive collection of air and space artifacts, including 150 crafts and an archive of 1.4 million aviation images. The museum also hosts the original manufacturing facility of the Boeing Company, Red Barn, the NASA Space Shuttle Trainer, and the world’s fastest aircraft, the Blackbird spy plane. Exhibits include a history of flight development through the world wars.

Frye Art Museum:

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This free museum mixers classic and contemporary art. Originally opened in 1952, the founding collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century art can be seen alongside changing exhibitions.

Museum of History and Industry:

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The Naval Reserve Armory hosts 50,000 square feet of the museum with permanent exhibitions including Maritime Seattle, Bezos Centre for Innovation, and True Northwest, altogether comprising 100,000 objects. There is currently an exhibit on Chocolate and an upcoming exhibit will explore Jewish business in Washington.

Northwest Railway Museum:

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Take a look back into the history of rail travel, which was so essential to the northwest in its earliest days. The museum consists of three stops, the restored 1890 Snoqualmie Depot, which acts as an active train stop, the Centennial Trail Exhibit, and the Railway History Center. There is also a Conservation and Restoration Center, which is available for guided tours.

Burke Museum:

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The oldest museum in Seattle was founded in 1885. The museum incorporates both natural history and contemporary culture. One of its current exhibits is called The Confluence of Science and Art, which pretty much epitomizes what the museum is all about.

Nordic Heritage Museum:

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The only museum in the United States devoted to the legacy of Nordic immigrants hosts permanent exhibitions on the history of Nordic native lands and their peoples move to the pacific northwest as well as changing special exhibits. There are also special events on site including the Nordic Knitting Conference.

Henry Art Gallery:

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The gallery is the oldest public art museum in the state of Washington, founded in 1927. It is known for its cutting-edge, contemporary art collections. Many popular artists were first discovered here. It is the only museum in the Northwest dedicated solely to contemporary art.

Honorable Mention:

230 acres of greenery can be found at the Washington Park Arboretum east of downtown. It houses the largest collection of Sorbus and maple trees and the second largest collection of hollies in the country.

Honorable Mention:

While not technically a museum, no trip to Seattle would be complete without heading up the 520 feet to the observation deck of the Space Needle, probably the most well-known landmark in the city from which you can get an amazing panoramic view of Seattle.



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