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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A little look at Seattle's "new" History Museum

Seattle's Museum of History and Industry has a new home and a bit of a fresh take on our city's history, and, well, industries.
The museum is located at 860 N. Terry Ave. in the old Naval Reserve Armory building, next to the Center for Wooden Boats on South Lake Union. Inside you'll find a large central lobby with most of the exhibits hidden away upstairs around a second story walkway.

The central lobby is large enough to display vehicles including one of the original hydroplane boats that famously tear up Lake Washington during the Seafair festivities and the popular Lincoln "Toe Truck."

Here's a detail from the wooden floor in the lobby that really caught my eye. What an interesting pattern- I wonder if this is timber from the original old growth forest? 

My husband Paul, an aviation buff, looks out from a second floor gallery window at the very first Boeing airplane. A wooden floatplane, it served as a mail carrier and was operated from a base right here on Lake Union. I wish I could take a closer look at this display case, but it is hung too high to see very well. I really need to take a closer look at the original sign from behind the bar at the Dog House: "All Roads lead to the Dog House," indeed!  




The stained glass mural that was behind the bar at the "Arctic Club" thankfully is displayed at eye level.  It was taken from The Arctic Building, which is still located in Seattle's Pioneer Square and is known for the fabulous walrus heads in it's decorative masonry. 


My favorite exhibit at MOHAI was a lighthearted musical retelling of the Great Seattle Fire. An animated film sings the tale while real relics from the disaster are selectively illuminated during parts of the story. (It features a singing glue pot! I watched it twice!)  


MOHAI has a couple of exhibits that address racism. The salmon gutting machine named the "Iron Chink" was a local invention created to replace Chinese workers in the local canning industry. At right is a copy of the order that sent US citizens of Japanese descent into concentration camps during WWII.  



The "Lusty Lady" was a woman owned adult entertainment establishment known for the double entendres on its marquee and for treating it's employees fairly. "Shelly's Leg" was Seattle's first gay bar. Founder Shelly Bauman used the settlement money received after losing her leg to open the club in 1973. 



Seattle's more recent past is represented by an exhibit of artifacts from the 90's Grunge music era and the demonstrations that occurred when the WTO conference was held here in 1999. 








Photographs pay homage to the many social rights movements that have emerged from or taken hold in this area over the years, including women's rights, gay rights and environmental activism. 





Film fans should make sure to visit before September 8th, 2013 in order to catch the special exhibit, "Celluloid Seattle," about movie palaces from days gone by and film and TV shows that were shot in this area. I thought I'd seen most of the films that use Seattle and the Northwest as a setting, but I now have a new list of films that I need to check out. 



It's really great to see MOHAI relocated closer to the city center at the edge of the Seattle's fastest growing (Amazon) neighborhood. It's sure to be a popular destination for locals and visitors for many years to come.

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