MOHAI, from Page 18
fragile documents electronically.
In contrast to most museums, the new MOHAI has a lot of windows, adding lots of natural light. In some instances, the shades are drawn to protect textiles and artifacts, but the sheer coverings mean visitors can still see out.
The museum’s second level is designed as a chronological exploration of modern Seattle history, from the 1950s to today, including exhibits on highlights from Seattle’s sports and music history (with some artifacts on loan from the EMP).
“Another thing we’re trying to do is to bring the exhibit up to the present day,” Manchak said. “If many of you have been to the old MOHAI, you might remember that the really robust gallery experiences ended kind of after WWII,” she said.
This effort can make for some odd juxtapositions: A Japanese court dancer model, given to the MOHAI in 1953 during the rebuilding of post-war U. S. relations with Japan, is displayed next to artifacts from the 1999 WTO riots. But it leaves visitors contemplating the ways in which Seattleites process and recover from conflict.
The ‘evolving Seattle story’
MOHAI will open with a bang on Dec. 29 with two special exhibits. The first, curated by film critic Robert Horton, is titled “Celluloid Seattle: a City at the Movies” and explores Seattle as it has been imagined in TV and movies.
The second special exhibit, housed in the Linda and Ted Johnson Family Community Gallery, is a collaboration with Arts Corps titled “Punctum/ Poetry.” Throughout the 2011-2012 school year, local poet and teaching artist Roberto Ascalon worked with students at Cleveland and West Seattle high schools. The exhibit documents the students’ poetry and spoken-word responses to historic images from MOHAI’s collection. The “Punctum/Poetry” exhibit will run through May 27, 2013.
The museum’s holiday season opening was “a lucky/unlucky coincidence,” Manchak said. “We had originally planned to open in November, but we just kept getting pushed back from various delays. We really wanted to open in 2012, and so we just kind of took it to the last possible point!” she said with a laugh.
The finishing touches still are being put on the exhibits that will greet visitors on opening day, but the museum will continually be a work-in-progress. Garfield anticipates gallery exhibits changing a few times a year, but the core exhibit, which they’re calling “True Northwest,” is built to be organic, so that elements of it can be changed out.
“We want that to be sort of a platform for telling the evolving Seattle story,” he said.
For a full schedule of events and further information about the new MOHAI, visit www.mohai.org. To comment on this story, write to CityLivingEditor@ nwlink.com.