Saturday, February 6, 2010

Field Trip: MOHAI - Museum of History and Industry

I didn't know what to expect at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry. I was a bit worried it would be full of precious, untouchable bits of history and on the dull side for 6 year olds.  It was Free First Thursday so we went anyway and I'm so glad! I was wrong about all my assumptions.

Here is what we found:
Beautiful murals
Hands on almost everything, everything breakable was protected from children.
It was very interactive and interesting.
A lot of things about Salmon.

First a great fishing boat, complete with fishing dress-up gear, jackets and boots, plush salmon, captains wheel, radio,  etc.  They spent a long time being fishermen.

While the boys were reeling in their catch and weathering hurricanes at sea, I read-up on the adjacent exhibit (housed in the same room)- The Great Seattle Fire.  I had heard of a big fire, but I didn't know that Seattle burned to the ground.  It was interesting to read through letters and check it all out, all while keeping an eye on the boys.  They also got a chance to check things out.  One of their favourite things (safely behind glass I might add) was the windows of things recovered from the fire and trying to guess what they were (answers at the bottom of this post, if you'd like to play along). Also, what little boys doesn't like to check out some authentic firemen gear, even if it is from over 100 years ago.
The boys thought the boat was pretty great until we rounded the corner to the next set of exhibits and I don't even have pictures of half of it, the Cannery Bunkhouse, accounting office (with an old safe) an interactive game of the entire salmon canning process where you have to keep the ball rolling by pressing buttons at the different cannery stations. There is actually an interesting article in the NYTimes archives from 1896 about the process. SALMON CANNERIES.; How the Delicious Fish Is Prepared for the Market.

One thing I didn't expect was my six year-olds to be able to play with knives safely and practise butchering salmon. ("Only in Seattle," my friend Jenny said). The knives were anchored and encased in Plexiglas that went through the table.  The object of the game was to butcher in time with the factory workers who would do this for 12 hours a day. There were different speeds for apprentise, skilled and expert butchers, you were to slice/push the knives in time with the three flashing lights on the wall in front of you. I thought it was exhausting to keep up, the boys had a great time trying over and over again.  (Is this a little gruesome? I'm not sure).  Next up in the cannery was a gang knife (the big one below with 10+ blades, then a game where you had to fit pieces of wooden salmon into cans, pretty cool.  We had a really great time and spent a few hours there, I would definitely recommend this.
MOHAI is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and till 8 p.m. on 1st Thursday. The museum is closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving and closes early at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day opening time is noon.
Admission fees are Adult (ages 18-61) $8, Senior (ages 62+) $7, Student and Military with current ID $7, Youth (ages 5-17) $6, Pre-School (ages 4 and under) Free
First Thursdays Free.

Seattle Fire Answers: Top left (clockwise) Coffee cups stacked, a window, a piece of an electric generator, a chunk of a bell, a stack of saucers.


Traci said...

what a fun place. I wish I would of known about this neat place before I left seattle. I am so glad that you had a great time. your boys are certainly the most cultured 6 year olds.

Kami's Khlopchyk said...

Wow that is fantastic! Interactive museums are the only way to go for kids, they are not interested in just looking and reading. I didn't know that Seattle was a salmon canning mecca, but what a rick history. And those fire items, that is neat, I never guessed correctly on any of the items :)

Traci said...

Oh, this is so up my alley, and the boys will like it too. Hmm, maybe next month. Looking forward to seeing what you do next.

Natalie said...

Your little guys are so lucky!