• gerard van weyenbergh

Invitation to an art walk in Seattle

Seattle owes its nickname of "emerald city" to its abundant vegetation.

To dive into the eventful history of the city, head to the MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry), rich in a collection of 4 million objects. Just a few blocks from the Amazon campus, the museum has been housed in the former naval armory since 2012, on the shores of Lake Union.


Leaving the museum, head to Pivot Art + Culture, on the ground floor of the Institute for Brain Science created by the billionaire Paul Allen: the Microsoft co-founder exhibits his incredible collection of modern and contemporary art.


Then head to downtown to take the monorail towards Space Needle. Erected on the occasion of the 1962 Universal Exhibition, this observation tower, looking like a flying saucer, has been the retro-futurist symbol of the city for more than fifty years.

At the foot of the "needle," the MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) by Frank Gehry, which one enters as in an amusement park, attracts crowds. Imagined in 2000 by Paul Allen (again him!), This delirium of iridescent petals is hardly unanimous. Compared at its inauguration to a "stranded whale," the museum was described by Forbes magazine as "the ugliest building in the world."

Bilbao Guggenheim architect says he was inspired by smashed guitars("Exploded guitars") by Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, both native to the city. With its giant screen, its sculpture made up of 700 guitars, its "Hendrix" or "Star Trek" exhibitions, the place delights rock lovers and geeks.


Before leaving the neighborhood, take a detour to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the site's second most popular attraction after the Space Needle, dedicated to Dale Chihuly.

A ten-minute walk away, the Olympic Sculpture Park, managed by the Seattle Art Museum, has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. This zigzag park shelters on nearly four hectares a dozen monumental pieces signed Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra, or even Jaume Plensa. The view of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains alone is worth the detour.



Back downtown, go to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), the city's main museum, the work of American architect Robert Venturi. On the forecourt, the impressive silhouette of a standing man, hammer in hand, welcomes the visitor: it is Hammering Man, a monumental kinetic sculpture from a series that Jonathan Borofsky has distributed in various cities of the world. Created in 1933, the museum contains a unique collection of modern and contemporary art and sections of beautiful African and Native American art.

Nearby, admire the Seattle Public Library, a glass and steel building designed by Rem Koolhaas. "The most important library built in a generation and the most exhilarating," according to the New Yorker.


The Frye Art Museum, the other major museum in the city, is located in the Capitol Hill district. An institution created in 1952, from the XIXth century collections of Charles & Emma Frye.