Doug Aitken’s “Mirror”

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On 1st and Union you will find the new entrance to the Seattle Art Museum. Regulars call it the ‘new entrance’ because when the downtown museum first opened in 1991 the main entrance was near the Hammering Man statue on 1st and University. The museum underwent renovations and when it re-opened in 2007 they moved the main entrance.

The museum is a living building, constantly undergoing changes—both interior ones as exhibitions come and go and exterior ones on the building itself. One of newest changes is a huge moving mural on the outside of the building, right behind the SAM sign that faces onto 1st Avenue. The display, “Mirror” by Doug Aitken, opened in March 2013. It features hundreds of hours of footage of people, environments, landscapes, and locations in Seattle that travel across the panels above the museum doors. The environment affects the display—what pedestrians are doing, the current weather and atmosphere conditions, and traffic and activity on 1st avenue all can alter the mural in different ways.

If you would like to come view “Mirror” you can see it from the street. If the weather is good one of the best viewing places is an open area right between the Four Seasons Hotel and the Pike Place Brewery—both of which are located across the street from SAM. If the weather is a bit mucky you can always view “Mirror” from one of the shops right across the street from the museum—I have been told that Fran’s Chocolate is an excellent viewing point. They also reportedly make a fantastic cup of hot chocolate, so I’ve been told!

However you choose to view “Mirror”, and whether hot chocolate is involved or not, have fun doing so! Until next time happy adventures and travels!

The Seattle Seahawks Send-Off

As the news has been reporting for about a week now the Seattle Seahawks are playing in Superbowl XLIX (49)! This is the second year in a row that the Seahawks are off to the biggest game of the year in American football—and that hasn’t happened in quite some time! To be honest it is quite a big deal here in Seattle and in the greater Pacific Northwest area.
Not every city, or even every state, can afford its own NFL team so the Seattle Seahawks are the nearest team for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia (Which has a bigger American football following then I excepted honestly). Plus pockets of the fans (Calling themselves “The 12th Man”) pop up all over the country. To say that the fans are loyal would be an understatement—they are well known as one of the most devoted followings of fans for any NFL team.
Last year for the Superbowl and following celebrations they proved that they’d earned this title…and now this year they’re out to top their own record turn-outs from last year!
Sunday is officially a week out from the big game at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona which is home field for the Arizona Cardinals during the main season. The Seahawks team flew out on Sunday to spend a week practicing and getting ready for Sunday’s kick-off. The team buses took them from their training compound in Renton, Washington and carried them down interstate 5 to SeaTac airport….and along every bit of the route that had a safe-ish place to stand fans crowded to see the team off.
I live about three doors down from the main road that the buses would be traveling on so my mom and I watched the live chopper feed from Channel 7 as they reported on the buses leaving the training compound. Once they were on the interstate my mom and I donned appropriate gear, collected a few members of her ‘team’ of Seahawks plush figures and snowmen, and walked down to the corner to see the buses off.
Bear in mind that fans had been gathering in our neighborhood since about 7am (I was woken up to loud chants of “Sea-HAWKS, Sea-HAWKS!”) though the team website had recommended that fans start gathering about 9am. So by the time my mom and I walked down about 9:15 or so the crowds were thick…and the ones right in front of my street were thin compared to what awaited the team down at the intersection and near the airport. Here are some photos that I nabbed of my street corner:

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The police had shut down all of the streets to traffic and had roped off a lane for the buses and their escorts to get through. Everywhere else was a sea of blue and green, fans bearing homemade signs, waving flags and chanting out slogans and support for the team.
It only lasted a few minutes before the buses went through and headed up into the airport for their flight to Arizona. Fans cheered their hearts out until the buses were out of sight and then dispersed and headed home. There will be an even bigger party next week for the game and I have a feeling that, should the Seahawks bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Seattle for the second time, the fans will throw an even bigger party then the one they had last year when an estimated 700,000 fans turned out for the Victory parade. Please bear in mind that Seattle’s regular population is a bit over 650,000…and many of the Seattle citizens did NOT turn out for the parade.
We shall have to see what the future brings—but the one thing I can promise you is that the 12th Man always knows how to throw a good party and some great support for their beloved team! If you would like to see more photos of the send-off the Seattle Seahawks website has a gallery full of pictures of fans along the whole route!

A Blast From the Past at the Science Center

I should apologize for the silence—my internet was down for an annoyingly long time last week, blacking out my Wednesday update and my ability to double-check dates and prices. Everything has been fixed however and now we are back on schedule!

And speaking of being on schedule Pacific Science Center is getting ready to bring their next exhibit in and it promises to be a fantastic one! This is its last stop in the U.S. for “Pompeii: The Exhibition” before it returns to Italy so you’ll definitely want to see it during its three-and-a-half month run.

Pompeii, near Naples, Italy is the site of one of the greatest natural disasters in recorded Human history. Sometime in 79AD the large volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the town of Pompeii, along with many near-by communities and villas in meters of hot ash. Many, if not all, of the citizens in the area, and in Pompeii in particular, were killed by the extreme heat and the ash and gas clouds that came from the eruption. Still what had been so thoroughly destroyed by the volcano was also preserved by it.

For almost 1,500 years the site was untouched until, quite by accident, some walls were revealed in 1599 while a crew was digging an underground channel for the Sarno river. Some excavation was done but ultimately the remains were covered up again. Again Pompeii remained undisturbed until 1748 when the Spanish military engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre intentionally began to uncover it. From that point on regular excavations and study of Pompeii became regular and since the early eighteen hundreds it has been a tourist attraction, starting out as a stop on the Grand Tour. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This exhibit is one of the few times that pieces and artifacts have left Italy. Many of the artifacts that will be shown are details of everyday life in a Roman city including artwork, armor from guards and gladiators, religious figurines, currency, and personal belongings such as jewelry or hairpieces. There will also be ten full body casts made from the hollows in the hardened ash—the skeletons of the deceased usually decomposed but they left imprints in the ash. Plaster was poured into those shapes and archeologists were able to recreate the forms.

One area of the display will be marked with a ‘mature’ warning—it will be a representation of a brothel. This display will be in its own area and will be visibly blocked from the rest of the exhibit—adults may use their own discretion in going in themselves or allowing younger members of their family to enter. There will be a by-pass route available should you choose not to view it.

There will also be an immersive CGI section where guests can experience a recreation of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius—there will be some shaking of the ground and walls. Guests who are prone to motion sickness will wish to exercise some caution during this part of the experience.

Once you travel through the whole exhibit there will be an exhibit-specific gift shop at the exit. This one is separate from the main Science Center gift shop.

The exhibit will be in Seattle between February 7th and May 25th, 2015. Tickets are already on sale and may be purchased in advance on-line. Tickets will be dated for specific dates and times of entries so that the exhibit will not become over-crowded. Prices for entry vary with ages and between weekends and regular weekdays. The website will have all of the most current ticket prices. Purchasing on-line is an excellent idea—when the King Tut exhibit was on display at the Science Center in 2012 the lines were quite long for at-the-gate purchases. Advance purchasing allows you to skip these lines.

This show looks to be a fantastic one and an amazing chance to see these artifacts in the United States. After this exhibit leaves Seattle you will have to travel to Italy to see them. I think, personally, it would be best to see this exhibit, let it whet your appetite and then plan a trip to Italy visit the sites of the disaster in person. Whether this will be just a fun day trip in Seattle for you or the launching-off-point for a European adventure I hope you have a fantastic time!

Once the exhibit opens I will be posting a follow-up blog focusing more on the history behind Pompeii and the artifacts inside. This will be part of a new segment I will be working on, a once-a-week post focusing on the history behind exhibits and sites in Seattle!

The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum–Seattle’s Hidden Museum

Pioneer Square is a treasure trove for Seattle history, being one of the oldest areas of the city. At 317 3rd Avenue South, about a block from the train station and the International District Link Light Rail station, you can find the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum. This is a small museum where the general public can access most of the Seattle Police Department and King County Sheriff Department’s histories. I cannot say ‘all’ of the history since most of the records and photographs from the departments’ early histories (prior to June 1889) was lost in the Great Seattle Fire which I will probably do a whole blog on since that disaster really shaped the face of the ‘modern’ city. They have only been able to locate one photograph of the department before 1889—it was found in a private collection and, as of the time I visited, it was in the museum.

It is not a large museum compared to many in Seattle but it is the largest privately funded police museum in United States. Inside of the museum the exhibits focus on related photographs and documents from the history of the area, displays on weaponry, uniforms, and badges as they progressed. There is also a vintage communication section and a jail cell for visitors to explore.

I originally headed to the museum to research a Steampunk novel I was working on. I was able to spend a very pleasant afternoon wandering around the displays and chatting with the elderly lady at the front desk. She was one of the few volunteers who help keep the museum open—it is a small affair and sometimes it gets passed over more than it deserves.

As she showed me the museum is laid out in a chronological order, starting with the Sheriff’s department that covered the territory before Seattle was officially incorporated. With gaps for the information lost in the fire (the original police station burned down) it moved into the 20th century, discussing the back-and-forth tensions between the Sheriff’s department and the Police department. Bootlegging came up next and the Prohibition—slowly it moved into the Depression, and then the changes the department went through during World War II. Along the way they discussed how the police department grew and changed as the area grew bigger and more small towns were incorporated in. Finally it moved into modern times and some of the more well-known crime histories in the area. The interactive displays like a 9-1-1 dispatcher console are located in a side room toward the back of the museum—they’re really fun to take a peek at!

Since this museum is often passed over except by researchers like myself, or visitors to Seattle who’ve seen it on a map and are curious, you do not need to worry about fighting large crowds. I was alone in the building for over an hour before a small group of travelers came in to check out the displays.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Anyone 12 and older are considered adults and their admission is $4.00 per person. Children 11 and under, along with handicapped guests, are $2.00 per person.

If you are a researcher the museum does have access to a research library. However it is not open to the public due to the delicate materials being stored there. Requests for information may be submitted to the museum by either calling the museum or writing to them. They will need an explanation of what you are looking for and the reason why—once they have that information they’ll help you as best they can. More information about the library can be found on the website: http://www.seametropolicemuseum.org/default.html

Now you all go out and have a good time exploring one of Seattle’s over-looked gems!

The Mammoth of Vancouver Island

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The above is a photo of one of the most popular museum dioramas viewable right now. This amazing Wooly Mammoth welcomes visitors of the Royal British Columbia into the Natural History Gallery. For the first thirty-odd years that the display was open this fellow was protected behind glass. In the spring of 2004 the museum designed to re-design the diorama and when it re-opened the glass had been removed and they added some of the background and environmental-details that can be seen here, including fiberglass casts of glacial rocks. They also added fans to stimulate a cold breeze, creating an icy chill. Later in 2008 a recording of elephant calls and rushing wind was included. This soundtrack can be heard through the whole front half of the gallery.

The fully revamped display can be just a touch eerie in the best way possible. The hall leading up to it focuses on Ancient Earth and the creatures that lived there. As you work your way up through cases of fossils and preserved bones the Mammoth serves as the crowning jewel to the collection. With all of the display’s features working together it is very easy to imagine a time when these beings freely roamed a much different Earth.

The whole museum is a treat—a real Must-See if you’re in Victoria for a few days! In May 2015, on the 13th, they are opening a special exhibit on the Gold Rush in British Columbia. They also have a long-term exhibit, through June 2017, on the languages of the First Nations in British Columbia.

The museum is open daily with one-or-two-day admissions for sale. You can also add I-Max tickets. Children between 3-5 years are free to the museum but I-max tickets must still be purchased at reduced rates. Youth is considered the ages between 6-18 years, Adults are 19 years and up, Students are 19 years and up with valid ID, and Seniors are over 65 years old. As ticket prices vary from season to season I would highly recommend a stop by their website to check prices, hours, and other details of the museum including handicap access, eating facilities in the museum and directions.

Enjoy your trip!

Seattle Central Library

Christmas has settled into the past and now we face the long, bleak days until spring returns again. I think, no matter where you live in the Western Hemisphere, the winter months drag on until the hope that spring will comes again begins to fade.

Still there are ways to beat even the most insistent case of rainy-day blues! One of my favorite ways to cope is to hide in the library—and Seattle offers one of the most beautiful public libraries on the West Coast.

The Seattle Central Library, with the main entrance on 4th Street right between Spring and Madison, is the central hub for the Seattle Public Library system. It is a magnificent steel-and-glass building that Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus designed in 2004, and in 2007 the American Institute of Architects placed it at #108 on their list of “150 Favorite Structures in the US”. The library is 11 stories tall and it can hold over one million books and other media, including DVDs, magazines, and newspapers. On the top floor one can find the Seattle Room—a reference room filled with antique maps and many, many books from historical accounts to copies of Washington State and Seattle City censuses and legal documents. It is a treasure trove for the history buff, the historical novelist or even just a local history fan.

One of the most interesting features of the building is the Book Spiral on floors six through eight. These floors house the non-fiction section of the library and are designed as a spiral so that the Dewey Decimal System filing system would not broken up—if you start at the bottom of the spiral you can wander all the way to the back of the eighth floor without being interrupted.

If you like fiction you’ll find the Children’s’ section on the first floor and the Teen and Adult fiction are on the third floor. I’ve wiled away many a rainy afternoon curled up among these shelves with a murder mystery or thumbing through a graphic novel or two. Often it’s the only way to spend a few hours—a wonderful break in a busy day.

The library is free to anyone who wishes to come in. If you are hungry or thirsty there is a coffee shop on the third floor called Chocolati. It sells prepackaged sandwiches, baked treats, a variety of hot drinks, and hand-made chocolates. Naturally food and drink is limited to the coffee shop tables and chairs, it is not allowed in the book or computer areas of the library. Right next to the coffee shop is a gift shop that focuses on items for book-lovers and readers. It also features arts and crafts created by local artists.

The library is open seven days a week. Every day but Sunday it opens at 10 am, on Sunday it opens at noon. Monday through Thursday it closes at 8 pm. Friday through Sunday it closes at 6 pm.

Enjoy your visit—if you do go be sure to stop by Chocolati, you’ll need the energy to explore the library in the fullness that it deserves! Have a good time!

2015 Dawns

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While the traditional season for posting pictures of the Nativity is a few days behind us I found myself returning to this photo from my Christmas Eve post as New Year’s Eve winds down into New Year’s Day. In it I find much that represents this Eve, as opposed to the Eve that such imagery is usually associated with.
Peace, quiet, warmth and a new child—the ultimate symbol of new life and beginning again. That’s really what New Year’s is about, once all of the parties have died down, the fireworks have been shot off and the champagne has been drunk. We all make a big deal about resolutions for the new year but, more than making huge promises to ourselves that are difficult to keep (Because I really don’t think any of us are going to cut ALL sugar out of our diet or hit the gym five times a week), we should make honest ones. Mine is to be less afraid of the new and the challenging.
That is what I hope to bring to this blog in 2015. The usual photo essays will keep going up on Wednesdays, and the text-based blogs on Sundays. I would also like to add a weekly vlog to the mix—when this will start and on what day is heavily leaning on when I get the equipment for it but I am hoping that it will be in the spring at some point.
New destinations will also be added—along with my usual discussions about Seattle I will be writing more about Victoria, British Columbia—one of my favorite cities in North America. I will also be taking a week-long trip to London, England in the spring so you will all be getting blogs and photography from that excursion. My Seattle excursions will begin to focus more firmly on museums, tours and festivals in the area along with some discussion of the local convention scene. I’ll probably also be adding in discussion on restaurants as Seattle is well-known for its food scene.
As I have already proven this year the blog will continue to focus on multi-generational fun that doesn’t have to break the bank. Seattle is an amazing city with a million things to do in it—and I hope to bring some of those to you all.
If you’re visiting Seattle, planning to visit Seattle or have just moved here and you’ve got questions please ask them! I’ll help you as much as I can! If you’ve lived in Seattle your whole life and you’ve got recommendations or a place you think I should explore please share it with me!
If you would like to see more of my photography from Seattle and the other areas that I visit I am posting most of my photography on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/129436660@N06/
Have a safe and very, very happy holiday. I hope that 2015 is a wonderful year for all of you and that, together, we can keep exploring and learning about the amazing world around us! God bless!