Community January 24, 2023

Must-Visit Museums in the Pacific Northwest

Winter might seem like it is dragging on, but these local and regional museums are a great way to get out while staying dry. Our corner of the Pacific Northwest has many different types of museums to explore. Whether you want to keep it local or venture out a bit farther from home, this list has something for everyone!

Arts and Culture

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA)

So many wonderful pieces of art are in the permanent collection at BIMA, which has a primary focus on the contemporary art and craft of the Puget Sound region, featuring more than 50 artists. You’ll also find a unique collection of artists’ books, and rotating exhibits showcasing different types of art. The museum frequently hosts special events, including films in their theater, lectures, and readings. Additionally, you can rent out areas of the museum for private events.

Admission: Free, donations accepted; memberships available

Hours: Daily, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM


Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) in Seattle

MoPop showcases local musical history with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam as well as Jimi Hendrix. There’s also a visual history of hip hop. In the non-musical exhibits, you can view the “Thrill of Horror Film” – complete with 50 terrorizing props like zombie heads from “The Walking Dead” and items from “Nightmare on Elm Street”. (The horror area is recommended for ages 13+.) You can also explore the world of magic and make-believe with memorabilia from cult classics like “The Wizard of Oz”, “Harry Potter”, and “The Princess Bride”.  MoPop also has rotating exhibits on other topics, so check their current list for more details. 

Admission: $25 – $31

Hours: Thursday to Tuesday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed Wednesdays)


Seattle Asian Art Museum

Located in Volunteer Park, the Seattle Asian Art Museum is home to an extensive Asian art collection that is part of the larger Seattle Art Museum family. In this eye-catching Art Deco building from 1933, you will find a contemporary Asian art exhibit, showcasing the work of 12 artists which, when displayed together, the museum says aims to “answer questions of who we are and where we belong”.

Admission: $9.99 – $17.99; children under 14 are free 

Hours: Friday to Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Special: Last Friday of every month is free


Museum of Glass in Tacoma 

This unique museum showcases the wide variety of techniques used by glass artists. You’ll find exhibits featuring glassware from the nineteenth century, interesting pieces created during the studio glass movement, contemporary pieces, and art created on-site through the artist residency program. For interactive fun, you can sign up for a workshop that teaches glass blowing, mosaics, and more. 

Admission: $10 – $18; children under 6 are free 

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed Monday, Tuesday)

Special: Workshop prices vary


History Museums

Suquamish Museum

Open for almost 10 years, Suquamish Museum sits in the heart of the Port Madison Reservation. There are two exhibit galleries, an educational classroom space, a research space, a museum store, and beautiful grounds with a storytelling area.  The staff often plan and host various educational workshops that are free with general admission. The permanent exhibit, “Ancient Shores – Changing Tides”, provides a window into Suquamish culture and traditions. The second gallery has rotating exhibits about historical events, customs and traditions, and pieces from Native artists. And, steps away from Suquamish Museum you’ll find historical sites like Chief Seattle’s grave and Suquamish Veterans Memorial.

Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for seniors/students, $15 for family; children under 5 are free

Winter Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM


Puget Sound Navy Museum in Bremerton

Explore a portrayal of life onboard one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear aircraft carriers in the museum’s first permanent exhibit, and learn about the 100+ year history of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Temporary exhibits change periodically. In the past, they’ve included exhibits on 3D printing and the Navy, African American Contributions to PSNS & IMF, as well as the history of women’s work in the Shipyard. You can also view a collection of artifacts and photography highlighting the region’s Naval history. Additionally, there are rentable meeting spaces for events, as well as volunteer opportunities.

Admission: Free; donations accepted

Hours: Monday and Wednesday – Sunday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Special Hours: First Friday of each month is open until 7:00 PM


National Nordic Museum in Ballard (Seattle)

Ballard has a large number of Scandinavian residents, so it is no wonder it is home to a Nordic museum. Explore the evolution of twelve thousand years of Nordic life and history, as well as immigration stories. Until March, you can see an exhibit called Mygration, an exhibition of works by Tomas Colbengtson and Stina Folkebrant. From March to July, enjoy immersive artwork created by Jónsi (Jón Þór Birgisson), lead singer of the band Sigur Rós in its first United States exhibit. This vast collection features over 80,000 artifacts from five Nordic countries.

Admission: $10 – $20; children under 4 are free

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Special: First Thursday of each month is free


America’s Car Museum in Tacoma

Whether you are a fan of NASCAR or have always wanted to see the sights on Route 66, this car museum has tons to explore. There’s a British Invasion exhibit dedicated to the influence of British cars from WWII to the 1960s. However, the cornerstone of the museum is the donated private collection of Harold and Nancy LeMay, whose name you will see in the emblem of the logo. The LeMays were the world’s largest car collectors, with over 3,000 in their collection at one time. The museum hosts a variety of speakers and special events, such as a family STEAM night once a month.

Admission: $10 – $18; children under 5 are free

Hours: Thursday to Monday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM; last entry at 4:30 PM


Museums that are Great for Kids

Kids Discovery Museum (KiDiMu) on Bainbridge Island

KiDiMu offers a fun world of imaginative play for young children to explore. They can enjoy various play areas like the giant marble run, the pretend grocery store, the giant light wall, the science exploration area, the treehouse, or the arts and crafts room. Also, KiDiMu offers a play-based preschool program and birthday party rental packages.

Admission: $9 for children and adults, free if under 12 months of age; $8 for military and $3 for EBT and Apple Health Families

Hours: Monday & Friday, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Special: First Friday of each month is free


Bremerton Bug and Reptile Museum

Located in the area of Bremerton known as Navy Yard City, this bug and reptile museum is a fan-favorite for those who love creepy crawly things. There is an 8-foot ant farm to observe, multiple live snakes, other reptiles and insects, as well as a large variety of preserved insects and butterflies. Complete a scavenger hunt or check out the gift shop for lots of great STEM-based toys.

Admission: Free to visit; donations are appreciated

Hours: Daily, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM


Hands-on Children’s Museum in Olympia

Set on a half acre, this interactive museum for kids has 150 exhibits and 10 gallery spaces. Creativity can run wild with maker spaces including tools like glue guns and sewing machines, a climbing gym with 9 pods, reaching 20 feet in the air, mini versions of a veterinary clinic, hospital, pizzeria, cargo ship, and more. Other fun activities are a light table, air maze, rocket launcher, woodland wind tunnel, plus lots of outdoor play spaces as well. Memberships and party bookings are also available.

Admission: Timed Entry Tickets starting at $14.95; $3.00 tickets for EBT families

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Specials: Save $2.00 when you purchase tickets online


Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett

This recently-expanded museum features tons of wonderful opportunities for kids of all ages. Exhibits include an interactive farm, a transit bus, an airplane, an area for kids under 3, tall timbers, a giant outdoor play structure, a replica of an archaeological dig, an animal hospital, a railroad area, a water table, air mazes, and more. You can book parties here, and they have seasonal special events as well as membership offerings.

Admission: $22.00 per person and children under 12 months are free; $3.00 tickets for EBT families

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM