I took some time today to visit the Museum of History and Industry to see the newly installed traveling Smithsonian exhibit. This would also be something of a nostalgia trip for me as well, not having been to MOHAI for maybe 26 or 27 years.
I was dumbfounded when I pulled up, I think it is always surprises me when places seem absolutely petrified in time (I’m thinking about 1969).
MOHAI is not a conventional art museum, more of a resting ground for a hodge podge of Seattle and Gold rush history. Much like the Smithsonian it’s self, it’s full of historical mementos, photos and reenactment exhibits with the focus being on Northwest history.
While the Smithsonian in DC has the Hope Diamond* and Archie Bunker’s easy chair, MOHAI has the Slo-Mo-Shun IV Hydroplane, Seattle children’s television star J.P. Patches patchwork coat and mementos from the 1962World’s Fair.
This is a great place to take kids, Yukon history buffs and those who prefer the lively sound of player piano music to the church-like hush of most museums.
The only unfortunate thing I will say is I left with a raging headache from the noise of the reenactment exhibits.
The Smithsonian’s Industrial Drawing show Doodles, Drafts and Designs contains some great drawings. For one reason or another I find them truly intriguing knowing I couldn’t remotely emulate the style myself if I tried.
Favorites included a drawing/doodle on a napkin of a to-be manufactured transistor (somebody’s lunchtime inspiration), W.W.II graphics encouraging an industrial machinist dress code for women workers and drawings from Henry Dreyfuss Associates, which was started by the king of American Industrial design, Henry Dreyfuss.
Due to space limitations I found the layout of the exhibit slightly confusing. Thinking it was over I would wander off to another room, only to turn a corner to run into more Industrial drawings and a few moments later I would do it again. Confusion aside, it was great to be in an unpretentious place where these drawings truly belong.
MOHAI really shines right now in their efforts to digitize their immense photographic collection for on-line use, a great resource!!
Also despite my selfish wish for them to remain petrified as they are I see, they are slated for a new location and shiny new building in 2007, to give them some obviously much needed room.
Doodles, Drafts and Designs is up until Sunday, April 11, 2004
*still can’t get over the memory of being surrounded by throngs of people armed with camcorders , elbowing each other out of the way to videotape the ever kinetic Hope Diamond the day I was there.