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The museum is free all day Saturday, and there are special events planned for all of next week. (KIRO Radio Photo/Chris Sullivan)

Seattle's MOHAI reopens in prime South Lake Union location

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It's a move that's been ten years in the making. The Museum of History and Industry had to get out of the way of the new 520 bridge. After some bumps and bruises it is re-opening to the public this weekend in a brand new location.

The old Montlake building was right in the path of the new bridge so MOHAI started looking for a new home more than ten years ago. It bought property near the Convention Center, but then the city approached it and asked if it might want to move into the old armory building at the south end of Lake Union. That would help the city out as it started its re-development plan for that part of the city.

There was arguing and fighting over the details, but the city and the museum finally made nice.

Six months ago, the museum finished packing its bags in Montlake and moved to South Lake Union. This weekend the museum re-opens in the refurbished World War II armory at the south end of the lake.

I asked the museum's executive director Leonard Garfield why it was important to save it. "Seattle is a city that's growing up very fast," he said. "A lot of us are new to the community. Here's a chance to connect with what Seattle is all about. We can discover our DNA."

The new MOHAI is well done. It captures the history of the old armory and tells the history of Seattle throughout time. There are interactive displays and it's neat to get up close and personal with some of the iconic items from Seattle's past. What are some of Garfield's favorites?

"Boeing's first ever commercial plane," he said. "The very first sign that Starbucks ever had. Clues that tell us that great ideas begin with individual people getting together, working hard and re-imagining the world. We've done that in Seattle many times. MOHAI celebrates that and allows us to understand that we all can be those history-makers."

J.P. Patches' coat is there. So is the old Rainier beer sign, and even the Lusty Lady marquee is there: It reads "We Support Forward Thrust."

And the old Lincoln Towing pink Toe truck is there too.

The museum is free all day Saturday, and there are special events planned for all of next week.


Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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