Two Cool Museums Bring Asian and African American History to Life
The Wing Luke and African American
Our region is brimming with diverse museums that educate, entertain and enhance a child’s understanding of culture. Now that parents are looking for indoor activities again, we catch up with what’s going on at two fascinating local museums that honor our region's Asian American and African American history.
Honoring a legacy at the Wing
The Wing Luke Asian Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, located in the historic East Kong Yick Building, aims to advance Wing Luke’s (the museum’s namesake and first Asian American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest) dream of preserving the history and culture of the Asian community.
The space contrasts modern galleries and art installations with original architecture and salvaged building materials, offering visitors a visually stunning and historically significant experience. The permanent exhibit “Honoring Our Journey” shares the histories and cultures of different Asian groups, and the diverse displays elsewhere in the museum provide an opportunity to talk with your child about important issues, including immigration, social justice and stereotypes.
“KidPLACE” is all about — you guessed it — kids! This high-ceiling, light-filled gallery includes hands-on activities for kids and an exhibit that frequently changes (currently, it's about Lunar New Year in different Asian countries).
The museum hosts Family Day at the Wing on the third Saturday of each month. This free event offers a two-hour, artist-led activity corresponding to a museum exhibit. The next is on Feb. 15, with a theme of dragons.
Representing a community at NAAM
Housed in the century-old Colman Elementary School, the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), which opened its doors in 2008, radiates art, culture and history from its exhibits, galleries and even from the walls of the building itself.
Before the museum opened, the school was scheduled for demolition, but community activists stepped in and occupied the abandoned building, saving the landmark.
The Journey Gallery introduces visitors to the rich African American experience. A detailed timeline weaves together Northwest and national history, and the colorful, interactive displays keep kids engaged. There are pages to turn, buttons to push, music to hear, and doors to open.
Consider gathering a group and booking a tour led by docents who are skilled at making the content appealing to children.
NAAM offers many programs for kindergarteners and older kids, including art workshops and seminars. The museum’s multimedia genealogy center is an interactive space where families all ethnic backgrounds can explore their family history.
Abbey McGee is an Everett-based freelance writer and mother of two preschoolers. This article was published in 2008 and updated in 2014.
Wing Luke Asian Museum
719 S. King St., Seattle
Open Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
$8.95–$12.95, younger than 5 are free.
Free admission first Thursday and third Saturday of the month.
Northwest African American Museum
2300 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle
Open at 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, with the exception of Thursday (11 a.m.-7 p.m.)
$5–$7, younger than 5 are free.
Free admission on the first Thursday of every month.