Museum of History and Industry

Last Washington post for the time being, I may go visit again, but hopefully to other parts, or Oregon or Canada, we shall see. It took me exactly one year to finish, which tells you how much backlog I had and still have, but I’m trying to catch up, hence the more frequent updates. Now onto the post…

Museum of History and Industry, located in Seattle, Washington


The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is open daily from 10am to 5pm, and until 8pm on Thursdays. Admission is $17. The first Thursday of each month is free admission at the MOHAI. (I also visited this museum on a first Thursday, so I got in for free, saved myself some money.) The museum is located in the South Union Lake area, so it’s further from other sites, but is still easily accessible by public transportation and car. For public transportation, there are a variety of buses one can take to reach the museum, please visit the King County Metro transit website. (The buses are quite reliable and easy to navigate, so don’t be intimidated to use public transportation.) If you choose to drive, there are several parking lots nearby with varying rates. The museum is located near a lake and in a park, so the area around the museum is very relaxing for a stroll if you are in the mood.

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The Museum of History and Industry has exhibitions throughout the four story building with the largest exhibit located on the second floor. The easiest way to view the museum is to take the elevator to the fourth floor and work your way down, so you don’t have to redouble your steps later on, and that’s what my buddy and I did. The fourth floor only contains one exhibit, “Maritime Seattle”, where visitors can learn about Seattle’s maritime history. The exhibit contains a variety of artifacts on display, including a variety of model boats and even a working periscope that gives a 360 degree view of modern day Seattle. Since this exhibit is located on the top floor, visitors are treated to stunning views of Lake Union by just looking out the windows in the room.

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The third floor has only one exhibit, too, and this exhibit is a temporary exhibit. When I visited, the exhibit was “A Place at the Table: Over 100 Years of Greek Restaurants, Culture and Entrepreneurial Spirit”, which was on display from February 7, 2015 to May, 31, 2015. Restaurants connect food, culture and entrepreneurship for Greeks, and were often a profession of choice for Greeks who chose to settle in the Washington area. This exhibit highlighted the stories of how  Greek traditions of hospitality and building lasting relationships with patrons combined to establish a business code that turned customers to friends.

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The second floor contains the core exhibit of the MOHAI, “True Northwest: The Seattle Journey”, which highlights Seattle’s journey from wilderness to modern city. The exhibit is made of over 20 smaller galleries that each capture a different moment in Seattle’s history. (Visitors can tackle any gallery they want first, but I find it easiest to go chronologically, so my buddy and I started from earliest to most recent.)The first four galleries are related to the earliest history of Seattle, and they are “Native Ground”, “Encounters”, “Getting Started”, and “High Hopes”. These four galleries cover the history of the natives who lived in the area prior to the founding of Seattle by the Denny Party to the establishment of Seattle as bustling port city.

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The next four galleries that are grouped together are “Seattle’s Great Fire”, “Gold Rush!”, “Seattle by Design” and “World at War”. All of these four galleries revolve around the theme of events that helped shape Seattle into a major city. For example, the great Seattle fire was a horrific incident, but it brought about changes that improved the city, such as the use of brick and stone for buildings instead of wood, and changing the city’s fire department from volunteer to paid work. The Klondike Gold rush brought a great influx of people to Seattle, thus increasing the city’s population and economy. War also boosted the economy as more jobs were created.

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Next is “Engines of Industry”, which has a variety of industrial changes that relate to Seattle on display. Visitors can view a Ford Model T, which was produced in Lake Union through the 1920s, and an Iron Chink, which is machine that cleans and guts salmon for canning faster than human workers. The next two galleries, “Moonshine” and “Hard Times” detail the lifestyles of the people during the Prohibition and Great Depression. The following two galleries that are grouped together are “World War II” and “Suburban Seattle”. Visitors can learn about how World War II affected Seattle, and the aftermaths of the war.

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Three galleries that are unrelated to each other (but I grouped together), and that go out of chronological order are “Boeing Takes Off”, “Seattle’s World’s Fairs” and “The Mircosoft Story”. “Boeing Takes Off” gives a history of the Boeing Company, which helped revive the Seattle economy after the Great Depression, and has various model air crafts on display. “Seattle’s World’s Fairs” is exactly what the gallery title says it is, a variety of artifacts relating to the world’s fairs are on view. “The Mircosoft Story” is a gallery on the Microsoft Company, which was founded in the Washington area. (I never really thought about it, but if someone asked where Microsoft was located, I would’ve said California, but now I know it’s actually located in Washington.)

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The last bunch of galleries all revolve around the more recent changes to Seattle. In “Changes”,  visitors can learn about Seattle’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement. Also, don’t miss a chance to see the first Starbucks sign and learn some Starbucks’ facts, such as Starbucks was founded in Seattle, and was named after a character from Moby-Dick. (Didn’t know the second fact, but now I can answer if anyone ever asks.) Learn about cell phones and Amazon (the website, everything seems to originate from Washington) in “Tech City”. See what’s currently going on and future visions for Seattle in “World City” and “Visions”.

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The first floor of the museum contains several Seattle icons that are not to be missed, including the B-1 Flying Boat, the first plane built by Boeing, and the Lincoln Toe Truck, a pink tow truck that looks like a foot. Finishing out the first floor is another exhibit, “Bezos Center for Innovation”. The Bezos Center showcases Washington’s history of innovation, and contains a variety of displays and interactive exhibits.

My buddy and I spent about 2 hours at the museum, but we kinda rushed through some things cause we didn’t have too much time. I feel another hour at the museum would’ve been sufficient as the second floor exhibit is huge and contains a lot of information, so the extra hour would’ve let me examined more in detail. The admission price is reasonable for a museum of its size and the amount of items on display, but I also feel it’s a bit pricey. (I feel anything over $15 is expensive, perhaps it’s cause I don’t really go to the pricey ones.) Anyone interested in learning about Seattle’s history or history in general will enjoy a visit to the museum. The Museum of History and Industry is one of the best places to learn about everything you may want to know about Seattle,  so take some time and visit and learn about the largest city in the Pacific Northwest of North America.


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