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29 Calendar

Photo: Daniel Sheehan

Permanent Exhibition

True Northwest: The Seattle Journey

Delve into Puget Sound’s history from the 1790s to today in an award-winning exhibit that combines artifacts, images, hands-on activities, and multimedia presentations. Discover how the dramatic environment, diverse population, connections to the broader world, and inventive spirit have shaped its history.

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True Northwest traverses through the real Seattle journey, from an age when Native American cultures first came into contact with Europeans, to the growth of a mill town and seaport, and the region’s transformation into a major global hub.  Find out how the city rebuilt after a devastating fire, made a fortune in a legendary gold rush, reshaped its natural setting, boomed during two World Wars and two World’s Fairs, and challenged the status quo in the 20th century. See artifacts from innovators who had a major impact on the world, and hear first-person stories from the men and women who shaped the region.  True Northwest offers engaging experiences for visitors of all ages.

True Northwest has been honored by the American Alliance of Museums with awards for outstanding interactive experiences and multimedia installations, and has been recognized by the Washington Museum Association with the Award of Excellence.

Scenes from the Seattle Journey

Photo: Ed LaCasse

Don’t Blame the Glue

On June 6, 1889, a fire ignited by an overturned glue pot at a cabinet shop raged through downtown Seattle, completely destroying all structures in its path—but miraculously no one was hurt. Did that discourage Seattleites? No! The Great Seattle Fire cleared the way for construction of a new city with a professional fire department, a forward-looking building code and modern infrastructure.

Photo: Ed LaCasse

Engines of Industry

Seattle became the gateway to the Pacific Rim with the 1893 arrival of the Great Northern transcontinental line. Along with its admission into official statehood, the railroad initiated an influx of newcomers to the new city with vital pathways for Washington’s extractive resource industries and their distant markets.

Photo: Ed LaCasse

Jet City

Boeing is a driving force among Seattle’s industries. The aerospace giant has deep roots here, from the first flight of a Boeing plane in 1916 to the market dominance of the 787 in 2012.

Photo: Daniel Sheehan

The Seattle Sound

In 1992 when Seattle’s own Nirvana reached #1 on the Billboard charts, the world’s ears turned to Seattle. Grunge-mania, it’s music and fashion took over, as local bands like Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney took the center stage. “Within nine months of its September 1991 release, Nevermind had sold 4 million copies. Major labels had been scoping out Seattle bands for a few years. When Nirvana brought alternative music into the multi-platinum mainstream, the majors looked harder, looked wider, and offered more money for bands to sign on the dotted line,” explained Sub Pop Records Co-founder, Jonathan Poneman.

Listen to Exhibit Highlights

English Audio Tour

Hear about 13 artifacts and stories that are crucial to Seattle’s past, as selected by Lorraine McConaghy, PhD, MOHAI’s Public Historian Emeritus.

Audio Tour En Español

¡No se pierda estos artefactos representativos de Seattle! Escucha al audio-tour en Español.