Your essential guide to Seattle’s 7 best museums

See history, art, and innovation come alive at Seattle’s 7 best museums, from MOHAI to MoPOP to SAM.

You don’t have to look far for the best museums in Seattle. The city houses icons like the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), Seattle Art Museum (SAM), the Pacific Science Center, and numerous others — all you have to do is choose where to go first.

Seattle is a haven for those who seek to immerse themselves in art, history, and science. Journey through the marvels of aerospace at the Museum of Flight, or learn about Seattle’s innovative spirit at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). Though there are countless museums to explore, this guide highlights the seven top museums in Seattle to get you started.

1. Pacific Science Center

Science and Educational Museum

The Pacific Science Center is a gateway to explore the wonders of science and technology, igniting curiosity in minds of all ages. This interactive museum, nestled steps away from the Space Needle, has hands-on exhibits, a tropical butterfly house, and a planetarium.

Moments not to miss:

Ignite your creativity with live science demonstrations, enchanting Laser Dome shows, and the IMAX theater.

Address and opening hours:

200 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.. The planetarium and daytime laser shows require timed tickets.

2. Seattle Art Museum

Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum, aka SAM, is a cultural beacon in Downtown Seattle. It’s renowned for its diverse collection that spans multiple continents and eras. SAM provides a platform for global artistic expression, offering a space for reflection and inspiration through its ever-changing exhibitions and installations.

Moments not to miss:

Explore the extensive Native American art collection to dive into the indigenous roots of the Pacific Northwest.

Address and opening hours:

1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

3. Museum of Pop Culture

Pop Culture and Music Museum

The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is a hip and colorful celebration of contemporary pop culture. Housed in a striking building designed by Frank Gehry, this museum in Seattle Center is dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture. With exhibits on music, sci-fi, video games, and more, MoPOP offers a fun escape for all interests.

Moments not to miss:

The immersive Jimi Hendrix collection and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame are must-sees.

Address and opening hours:

325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM every day except Wednesdays.

4. Museum of Flight

Aviation and Space Museum

Aviation enthusiasts will have a blast at the Museum of Flight. As one of the world’s largest air and space museums, it houses an impressive collection of aircraft and spacecraft. Located at Boeing Field, this museum offers an in-depth look at the history of flight, from the earliest biplanes to modern jets and space vehicles.

Moments not to miss:

Experience piloting your own plane during a thrilling flight simulator or blast off into deep space using virtual reality tech.

Address and opening hours:

9404 E. Marginal Way South Seattle, WA 98108. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM every day.

5. Wing Luke Museum

Asian Pacific American Cultural Museum

In Seattle’s historic Chinatown-International District, you’ll find the Wing Luke Museum, dedicated to portraying the unique experiences of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders through art, exhibits, and experiences. It’s the only pan-Asian Pacific American community-based museum in the United States.

Moments not to miss:

Join one of the museum’s tours for an enriched visit, such as an educational tasting tour showcasing the cuisine of the Chinatown-International District.

Address and opening hours:

719 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM every day except Tuesdays.

6. Museum of History and Industry

History Museum

The Museum of History and Industry, or MOHAI, is located at the south end of Lake Union and offers a comprehensive overview of Seattle’s rich history. From its early days as a logging town to its current status as a hub for innovation and technology, the museum showcases the city’s journey through interactive spaces and rare artifacts.

Moments not to miss:

At the Bezos Center for Innovation, learn about Seattle’s impact on global technology and culture, and get a comprehensive look at Puget Sound’s history at the True Northwest permanent exhibition.

Address and opening hours:

860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM every day.

7. National Nordic Museum

Cultural and Historical Museum

The National Nordic Museum in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Nordic immigrants in the Pacific Northwest. Beautifully blending history, art, and culture, this museum is a captivating destination to explore the traditions, innovations, and stories of the Nordic people.

Moments not to miss:

The Nordic Journeys exhibition, which spans over 12,000 years of Nordic history, and the stunning array of contemporary Nordic art, are highlights not to be missed.

Address and opening hours:

2655 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107. Open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM every day except Mondays.

FAQs

What are the must-visit museums in Seattle?

In Seattle, top museums include the Seattle Art Museum, with its extensive art collections; MoPOP, a paradise for enthusiasts of music and pop culture; the Museum of Flight, a treasure trove for those interested in aviation; the Pacific Science Center, known for its young-mind friendly science exhibits; the Wing Luke Museum, dedicated to Asian Pacific American culture; MOHAI, which delves into the city’s growth; and the National Nordic Museum, celebrating the heritage of Nordic immigrants in the region.

Are there any free museums in Seattle?

Seattle offers some museums with no admission fee. The Frye Art Museum, with European art from the 19th and 20th centuries alongside contemporary works, is always free. Other museums, like SAM and MOHAI, offer free entry on specific days, typically the first Thursday of each month.

Are there any museums in Seattle that are suitable for children and families?

Thanks to its interactive and educational exhibits, the Pacific Science Center is a hit with families. The Museum of Flight also caters to younger audiences with its engaging and sensory-focused aviation displays, from VR space exploration to real-feel flight simulations. Other family-friendly options include the Children’s Museum.

For which museums in Seattle are guided tours recommended?

Guided tours are particularly beneficial at the Museum of Flight, offering deeper insights into aviation history, and at the Wing Luke Museum, where new and creative experiences are always on rotation.

Are there any museum passes or discount cards available for visiting multiple museums in Seattle?

The Seattle CityPASS is an excellent choice for discounted access to several major attractions, including museums. Also, during Seattle Museum Month, typically in February, visitors staying at participating hotels can enjoy half-price admission to a range of museums.