Seattle museum opens Saturday at new site (gallery)

SEATTLE — Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry officially opens Saturday at its new location in the city’s booming South Lake Union neighborhood.

The $90 million facility in the refurbished Naval Reserve Armory gives the museum 50,000 square feet of exhibit space and moves it from a largely hidden home in a Montlake park to one of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods.

The museum was established by a nonprofit historic association in 1952.

Opened in the first year of World War II, the armory hosted military training activities on a pier over Lake Union’s southern shore. The U.S. Navy transferred ownership of the Naval Reserve Armory to the city of Seattle in 2000.

In 2009, the city reached an agreement with the museum to relocate it.

Some familiar pieces will be on display in the new museum, which features four towers of artifacts circling an atrium: the red neon Rainier Beer “R” and the 1919 Boeing B-1 floatplane that carried airmail between Seattle and Victoria.

The museum has also added some items that have been in storage for decades, including an ornate, life-size ceremonial dance figure donated to the museum in the 1950s by the people of Kyoto, Japan.

Last year, Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos donated $10 million to the museum for a new exhibit focusing on Seattle’s history as a center for industrial innovation, dating back to Henry Yesler’s steam-powered sawmill.

It marked the largest donation in the museum’s history.

The grand opening kicks off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by performances from a poet and local musicians throughout the day. Visitors will also have the opportunity to participate in activities, such as Salish weaving demonstrations, print making, and a build-your-own periscope project sponsored by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.

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