“We The Future” exhibit at the Gates Foundation Discovery Center. Credit: Nancy Chaney
Special exhibitions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center always focus on the inspiring work of people who are making a difference in the world. For this reason, it's a great spot for family learning and inspiration.
The Discovery Center's current exhibition, “We The Future,” highlights youth activists who are working to build the better future they want to live in.
The exhibit was inspired by an education campaign from Seattle-based nonpartisan design lab Amplifier, the same group responsible for the “We the People” campaign. Amplifier produced the iconic poster of a woman in an American flag hijab for that campaign.
Using research and artwork by Amplifier, “We The Future” was co-curated by the Discovery Center’s Youth Ambassadors. Youth Ambassadors were involved in every aspect of the exhibit’s development, from exhibit design to public programs.
We The Future
The exhibit features ten youth activists, ranging in age from 13 to 27. Each one is a national leader in a movement working for social change. The featured youth are:
- Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: the 18-year-old indigenous Youth Director of Earth Guardians
- Amanda Gorman: the first Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, who founded One Pen One Page to promote literacy and youth activism
- Leah the Activist: a youth leader with Families Belong Together, fighting to end immigrant family separation
- Ismael Nazario: Peabody award-winning, formerly incarcerated advocate for prison reform working with numerous advocacy projects, including Performing Statistics
- Winter BreeAnne: youth advocate who founded Black Is Lit and Just Active, she spearheaded National School Walkouts against gun violence and works on several campaigns to encourage youth civic involvement
- Lydia X. Z. Brown: advocate for disability justice who founded the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network’s Autistic People of Color Fund
- Lindsay Amer: created the all-ages LGBTQ+ educational web series Queer Kid Stuff
- Amanda Nguyen: founded Rise to advocate for sexual assault survivors’ rights and to help citizens write and pass legislation
- Isra Chaker: advocate for refugees and asylum seekers who serves as Refugee, Migration, and Protection Campaign Lead at Oxfam and fights against discriminatory policies such as Muslim bans
- Paul S. John: social justice advocate working to end anti-Black racism as Manager of Mayoral Outreach at Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Each activist is featured at a station displaying their Amplifier poster, information about their work, and a tablet with related videos. One corner of the exhibit highlights local youth-led groups and local points of connection with national groups that local youth can get involved in themselves.
Parents Should Know
We the Future is appropriate for all ages with parental guidance. However, it is text-heavy, so older kids and teens are more likely to appreciate it. Besides the videos at each station, interactive components include a “We the Future” selfie wall; “You Are the Amplifier,” a space where visitors can write and post their own ideas for and commitments to change; and an art lab where visitors can develop their own self-identity portrait. These interactive elements will especially appeal to kids and families.
The exhibit offers numerous take-home items like stickers, patches, postcards and informational fliers from the projects led by the featured activists. Visitors can also take home one of the posters created by artists Shepard Fairey, Kate DeCiccio, Rommy Torrico and Munk One, each featuring one of the activists.
Numerous special events are scheduled throughout the exhibition, including “Queer Kid Stuff” a 45-minute performance, sing-along and story time for families on Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. (see below). Hosted by featured activist Lindsay Amer, “Queer Kid Stuff” is an all-ages LGBTQ+ and social justice web series that presents gender and sexuality concepts through songs, metaphors and stories.
That afternoon, Amer will join a youth-led gallery discussion. The discussion is one of a regular series of discussion sessions that will be held on Saturday afternoons, roughly twice per month during the exhibition. Each discussion will focus on an issue addressed by one of the featured activists and will usually be led by one of the Youth Ambassadors involved in developing the exhibition. Keep an eye on the Gates Discovery Center's Facebook page for more events.
If you go...
Where: The Gates Foundation Discovery Center at 440 5th Ave. N., Seattle, across the street from the east edge of Seattle Center and next to the Gates Foundation offices. Note that there is no public access to the Gates Foundation offices.
When: The Discovery Center is open Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (closed Sundays and Mondays). “We The Future” is scheduled to be on view through March 21, 2020.
Admission: Admission to the Discovery Center is free.
Age recommendation: This exhibit and the entire Discovery Center is appropriate for all ages with interactive elements that will appeal to kids.
Upcoming special events: