From artwork from the great masters to the ingenuity of crafters, Seattle’s ever-changing museum scene is great for families. It means you and the kids can visit your favorite Seattle museums again and again and still find new things to do, touch and see. Here are the newest museum openings for 2020, coolest perks for families and hot new exhibits we can’t wait to show our kids.
Asian Art Museum
It's here! And we couldn't be more excited about the Asian Art Museum's reopening. The new building and museum's approach feature a radically different point of view. Instead of grouping art by nation, exhibits are now grouped by a dozen intersecting themes including, “Worship and Celebration,” “Visual Arts and Literature” and “Clothing and Identity.” If you weren't one of the lucky 10,000 Seattlites to score free tickets to the weekend re-opening Feb. 8, you've still got time to check out new family-friendly exhibits like...
What's Hot: The Free First Saturday program with Sammy the camel, who invites families to get inspired in the new galleries and make their own masterpieces in the studio. The monthly three-hour event is free, but you need to reserve tickets ahead of time. Look for the reboot Mar. 7, 2020.
1400 E. Prospect St.
Seattle, WA 98112
Seattle Selfie Museum
More of a paean to pop than a traditional museum, the just-opened Seattle Selfie Museum is located near the Gum Wall at Pike Place Market. It's a different type of art museum—a place where the art is you! “Built for the 21st century digital nomad” this place is filled with room upon room of different props for you and your little guys and gals to create the ultimate selfie. (Is too early to plan for a Christmas card photo?) There is a lot to see here, but you should be able to see it all within 30-45 minutes.
What's Cool: Everything here is “selfie-ready” and unlike other stuffy museums, you can touch anything you want. Just don’t jump into other people’s pictures.
92 Union St.
Seattle, WA 98101
The Museum of Flight
Just about every type of flying machine can be found here, but why just look at the planes when you can fly them? Virtually of course, but still…The Museum of Flight offers The Pilot Experience during certain weekends each month. These one-hour sessions will test you and your co-pilot (kids 10 & up) to see if you’ve got what it takes to fly a real Cirrus SR20. It is an extra $20. Younger pilots will appreciate the Kid’s Flight Zone where they can check out the hang gliding simulators, send an air balloon to the ceiling, play with aircraft instrumentation, sit in cockpits and more.
What's New: The veteran U.S. Army Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopter has just arrived as a new addition. “The Old Lady” was the oldest flyable Chinook in the world-wide Army inventory when it was taken off of flight status in 2017 after 54 years of service.
9404 E. Marginal Way S.
Seattle, WA 98108
Museum of History & Industry
The Museum of History & Industry collects and preserves artifacts and stories from all over the Puget Sound celebrating our diverse culture. MOHAI offers unique perspectives with their exhibits like the Bezos Center for Innovation, which highlights creative solutions that were invented in Seattle; True Northwest, diving into the Puget Sound's history from the 1790’s to today; and Maritime Seattle, which highlights the various maritime activities around the Sound.
What's New: MOHAI's Kid-Struction Zone, for kids ages 2-7, is open for the season. This temporary exhibit encourages little minds to learn through fun, hands-on interactions while stimulating curiosity and creativity. Now through August 31, 2020, kids can explore the different rotating elements including a Duplo table, a tool bench, reading stations, historic photograph viewing, magnet boards, a felt table and graphic panels with ideas for building structures with blocks. And guess what? Kids get in free!
860 Terry Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
Seattle Children's Museum
Located in the shadow of the Space Needle, the Seattle Children's Museum boasts over 18,000 square-feet of play space, designed for kids up to 8 years of age, and it's where you can find plenty of hands-on exhibits to explore as well as daily educational programs, story times and art activities that are free with the cost of admission. Exhibits include the Dunn Lumber Construction Zone, Sound Transit, The Market, COG City, Discovery Bay, Global Village, Imagination Studio, Eye Clinic, Mountain and Tribal Tales.
What's Cool: The Bijou Theatre at the museum recently got an upgrade including new theatrical lighting, light faders, sound effects, new curtains and a bright and shiny dressing room. Your little “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent” star needs to take a look!
305 Harrison St.
Seattle, WA 98109
Pacific Science Center
The Pacific Science Center is always a fun destination with their IMAX movies, laser shows, planetarium, tropical butterfly house and more. You can enter the 4th dimension and then enter realities that you have never experienced before. These immersive experience are something PacSci says you need to see, feel and even smell to believe.
What's Hot: Regardless of what exhibits draw you in, don’t miss out on the live demonstrations. Admit it. You are just as interested in things that go boom as your kids.
200 2nd Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
Museum of Pop Culture
The Museum of Pop Culture is an ever-changing museum offering insights on everything from music and video games to movies, sports and more. While there is something for everyone here, we recommend MoPOP for families with older kids who can appreciate Sci-fi wonders and Fantasy worlds. Just about every kid (and parent who wished that they had become a rock star) will love the Sound Lab where they can actually learn to play different band instruments in a matter of minutes! Currently, they feature these exhibits: Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic, Minecraft: The Exhibition, Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, Sound Lab and a lot more.
What's Cool: It’s amazing what you’ll find here including the Cowardly Lion costume and the Wicked Witch of West’s hat, as well as items used in the making of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. There's so much pop history to explore!
325 5th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98109
The new Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is housed within a 113,000 square-foot building that's 66-percent larger than its old facility, and with it comes a lot of new changes and additions. First of all, you'll see scientists at work—they're actually on display! Little white boards posted at the large windows will tell you what they are up to and in same cases, you'll be invited inside. New family spaces have been designed allowing your little guys and gals to climb, crawl, look, touch and ultimately learn as they explore. Here, kids can also climb on an orca whale, investigate a large log, explore a tide pool, board a Northwest Indian canoe, check out a research tent and dress up like animals to see how well they blend in at the "camouflage corner."
What's Hot: The new museum also has a new dining venue called Off the Rez, an offshoot of the local food truck featuring handmade frybread, Indian tacos, wild rice bowls, salads and espresso beverages. So good!
4300 15th Ave. N.E.
Seattle, WA 98105
Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum is a more traditional art museum that features an extensive collection of works including, oil paintings, photography, watercolor, sculpture to name a few. While some of it may be a little too “high brow” from the younger set, there's plenty for kids to enjoy and interact with. Be sure to check out the Chase Open Studio, where you'll find everything you need to create your own piece of art inspired by major themes in SAM's current special exhibition, and the Ann P. Wyckoff Education Resource Center, which has been considered a "launchpad to explore works of art and spark creative learning".
What's Cool: SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park is a must-see and is free for everyone. Follow the trail through this nine-acre park to find amazing sculptures, giant art and fun, interactive beauty. The trail is equipped with ADA accessible ramps and wide paths.
1300 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
Olympic Sculpture Park
2901 Western Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
KidsQuest Children's Museum
What makes this children’s museum in Bellevue stand out is its emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). All of the exhibits are geared toward kids age 10 and under, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself playing alongside your kids. Exhibits include the Atrium Climber, Bellevue Mercantile, Train Table in Cityscape, Connections Gallery, Big Rig on the Go, Sticks and Stones, Story Tree, Tot Orchard and Water Gallery. Plus, the souped-up daily programming means there's always something interesting and engaging going on whenever you visit.
What's Cool: While the Atrium Climber is pretty cool, we can’t get past the fact that this museum features the front half of a real semi truck for kids to climb inside and let their imagination take them wherever they want to go.
1116 108th Ave. N.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
Bellevue Arts Museum
For over 70 years, the Bellevue Arts Museum (or BAM) has been celebrating artists and the people who love their work. From the ornate to the whimsical, there is much to appreciate here. Even if you don’t like what you see initially, just turn the corner and you might be surprised by what you might find.
What's Hot: Well worth the wait is BAM's upcoming “America’s Monster, Superheroes, and Villains” opening Sept. 4, 2020 and running through Jan. 4, 2021. The exhibit will be set up using five different themes: Unintended Consequences; Truth, Justice, and the American Way; Innocent Monsters; With Great Responsibility Comes Great Power; and Myths and Legends. From Superman to robots to the Universal classic monsters, they’ll all be there.
510 Bellevue Way N.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
National Nordic Museum
If there’s a Viking in your family, check out the Museum's Nordic Journeys exhibit which is a hands-on, kid-friendly display about the immigration story from the "old country” to the United States, then to Seattle and on to Ballard. For your preschooler, he or she will delight in the free Nordic Stories programs which involves a Nordic story and a related craft. Check out more fun events here.
What's New: Family Fun Thursday happens the 2nd Thursday of each month from 6-8 p.m. Drop in for special activities. The first one involved a craft projects using LEGO bricks. What will it be next month? No reservation is required and the program is free with museum admission.
2655 N.W. Market St.
Seattle, WA 98107
Children's Museum of Tacoma
While this museum is not as large as some of the others on this list, the Children’s Museum of Tacoma has gotten Goldilock’s approval: its size is just right. This is a bright and cheery place, where “play is celebrated every day.” Here you’ll finds a large (and very clean) water table, a fantastically fun art studio and a variety of interactive playscapes to spark kid’s imagination. This is a “pay as you will” museum which relies on donations but also allows everyone to come in and have fun.
What's Cool: Check out their small Café Play when the Littles get hungry or parents need a pick-me-up of the caffeinated variety.
1501 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98402
LeMay’s America’s Car Museum
LeMay’s is full to the brim with Cadillacs, Chevrolets and NASCAR cars (and everything in-between). As if looking at great cars wasn’t cool enough, LeMay’s America’s Car Museum features “The Family Zone” which is a place where kids of all ages can take the Road Trip Challenge, learn how cars work, drive an ACM virtually, race pinewood cars and design your own car at the Art Station. Also be sure to check out the Learning Lab.
What's Hot: LeMay’s offers special Drive-In movies in summer. Grab dinner at one of the picnic concessions and watch the 40-foot outdoor screen from your car, a blanket or chair. The movies are free!
2702 E. D St.
Tacoma, WA 98421
Frye Art Museum
Check out the Museum's Small Frye: Storytelling + Art, which bring local actors and musicians to present fun and inspiring performances for the littlest art lovers. Other activities include counting, recognizing sizes, shapes, colors and patterns as well as enacting animal activities and identifying weather. The program is designed for kids ages 3-5 and their caregivers and occurs on the first Friday of the month from 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Note: Seating is limited and attendance at storytelling is required for art activity; reservations are recommended. Admission is free.
What's Cool: The Frye’s Café Frieda makes for a great place for a snack or lunch. The kid’s menu includes a Nutella & Raspberry Jam Sandwich and a Kids Board which contains Nutella, sliced apples and Tillamook cheddar cheese. Hmmm. Maybe we’ll take one as well!
704 Terry Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
Museum of Glass
Tacoma’s Museum of Glass is dedicated to glassmaking as well as glass displaying. It is the West Coast’s largest and most active museum glass studio around. You will be just as mesmerized as your kids watching glassmaking performed right in front of you. Not only that, but you can give it a try yourself. The museum offers education studio workshops all the time and believe it or not, there are some hands-on projects geared for kids! Every day that the museum is open, there will be something to do. From fusing to mosaics, you’ll find it here.
What's Hot: The Kids Design Class program for kids age 12 and under allows kids to think outside of the box and put their inspiration to paper. One drawing is selected each month and will be blown into glass art that kids get to keep!
1801 Dock St.
Tacoma, WA 98402
Hands On Children's Museum
With the goal being a premier provider of “hands-on” science and art, we can attest that Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum has succeeded. There is so much fun stuff to do and see here including these exhibits: Arts & Parts Studio, Build It!, Emergency!, Our Fabulous Forest, Good for You, Move It!, Outdoor Discovery Center, Tides to Trees Climber and Snug Harbor for wee ones ages 4 and under. Long story short, this children's museum is popular for a reason.
What's New: Ahoy there land lubbers! The “Megan D” is a vintag56’ schooner exhibit at the museum's recreated Puget Sound Beach. While onboard, kids can use the rope climb to reach the top deck high above ground, navigate the ship's rope ladder to the lower deck, explore the crow's nest, learn about wind power and even walk the plank!
414 Jefferson St. N.E.
Olympia, WA 98501