The Seattle Center was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The park and entertainment area has survived and grown over its 54 years. It was originally home to the Space Needle and the Monorail, but has added the EMP Museum and Chihuly Garden and Glass among other attractions.
The Monorail is an elevated system that operates between the Seattle Center and the Westlake shopping center downtown. It carried about 8 million people during the six-month fair. Today about two million people use it annually.
The Monorail travels through part of the Experience Music Project Museum. The EMP Museum opened in 2000. It’s home to the music museum and science fiction museum. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame is also located there.
The EMP Museum hosts permanent and special exhibits. Seattle natives Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain (with his band Nirvana) are recognized with permanent exhibits. Hendrix is possibly the best guitarist in the history of music.
The museum is currently home to a special exhibit featuring Hello Kitty. The display, which lasts until mid-May, features more than 500,000 items, ranging from toys and backpacks to clothes and figurines.
The Sci Fi Museum has a couple of interesting special exhibits. The first features people’s attraction to horror and science fiction movies. Props are displayed from several movies and television series, including “Shaun of the Dead,” “Gremlins” and “The Fly.”
Another exhibit features our love of fantasy films, such as “Princess Bride,” “Labyrinth” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Props displayed include a dragon, costumes, weapons and jewelry.
A short walk from the EMP Museum is the center’s most popular attraction – the Space Needle. Built in record time (400 days) for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1962. It stands at more than 600 feet tall. Today, it’s the fourth or fifth tallest building in Seattle.
The observation deck is at the 520-foot mark. It allows people 360-degree views of the region, including the skyline and Puget Sound. Visitors can check the view from inside or on the exterior deck.
Next door is the newest resident of the Seattle Center, the Chihuly Garden and Glass. The eight-room facility offers visitors an opportunity to see the various art styles of Tacoma native Dale Chihuly.
We have a few favorite styles of Chihuly’s art – the flowery-looking seashells and the “forests” he creates. The forest consists of a room with almost every design included in the exhibit. To me, it looks like the floor of the ocean. His work is always beautiful.
The attraction includes a garden. It mixes Chihuly art with flowers and plants. Strolling through the garden is impressive. I enjoyed seeing his work standing next to a long log lying on the ground. It reminds me of a CGI scene, mixed with natural art.
The Seattle Center is home to the Seattle Mural, which helped celebrate the World’s Fair. I love the view of the Space Needle behind the mural.
The Pacific Science Center is located at one end of the center. We feel as though the science center is focused more for children. However, there have been exhibits that have piqued the interests of adults we know. One of my daughters wanted to walk through a nose exhibit. You actually walked through an exhibit that resembled a nose. The science center does have an IMAX theater.
I do like some of the art work at the science center. The arches in the center court are lit at night. They can be used to promote causes or celebrations.
The tall flower sculptures at one end of the science center are interesting. I noticed that people used them as photo props for group pictures.
While not physically on the grounds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation building is considered part of the Seattle Center. It’s located across the street. The Gates invite the public to visit the facility. Tours are offered at the visitors center. People can see and learn about the charities supported, as well as the mission to help around the world – beginning in the Northwest.
The complex consists of two V-shaped buildings. I first noticed the complex from the Space Needle’s observation deck.
Besides the main attractions, the Seattle Center consists of more facilities, including the Seattle Center Armory, Fisher Pavilion and Mercer Arena.
For additional information on the area and attractions, please visit www.seattlecenter.com.