On the very busy corridor of 5th Ave. N. between Mercer and Harrison, nestled between the campus of one of the biggest non-profits in the world and a massive parking garage lies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Often overlooked in a neighborhood full of destinations, (it's right across the street from EMP and Seattle Center; one block from Ride the Ducks and Teatro ZinZanni) the Gates Visitor Center is almost a hidden gem. Jacob and I spent the afternoon there to kick off our weekend, getting lost in the many stories to read and things to do.
Learning + doing. Two of my favorite things.
My (and probably everyone else's) favorite gallery
I feel like the Gates Visitor Center is overlooked not just because of its proximity to Seattle Center, but because people don't really know what to expect. It's hard to know what it is unless you've actually experienced it - and if you haven't yet, you really should! Think of the Gates Visitor Center as a museum, but instead of being inspired by art, you're being engaged through the very real stories told in the Gates Visitor Center's walls.
Closing in on pledges on the Share Your Cause trees
Getting the lowdown on tempered vaccine coolers, emergency shelter kits and more from Davida, an educator at the Gates Visitor Center.
What kinds of stories, you ask? Those of women in Africa who are learning how to make their water safe with chlorine dispenser stations. Young students whose lives have been directly impacted by changes in their schools and libraries. A running list of all the non-profits and organizations - large and small - who've received funding from the Gates Foundation (grantees.) The rich and deep history of the Gates family itself. Even stories and ideas from you!
All of the grants (all 7000 the foundation made prior to the Gates Visitor Center's opening.)
The shining star in the Gates Visitor Center is definitely the interactive exhibits. Unlike museums, you can see, touch and create as you learn about the various causes the Gates Foundation focuses on. Moving walls, rotating globes, pull levers, photo booths and touch screens galore are the real reason you'll easily lose a few hours in the Gates Visitor Center. From the rice bags lining the sidewalk outside to the Share Your Cause trees in the back - these interactive exhibits aren't just there to help entertain and maybe educate guests, but to show us how we can think about - and contribute - to these very same causes.
Rotate the globe for continental news and updates on various Foundation causes.
Cheesing for the photo booth
Those buckets were so heavy. Now imagine carrying those across varying terrains for miles, full of water intended to hydrate and bathe you, your family and your livestock.
I love spending time in the Gates Visitor Center because it's a hub for ideas around how we can help our community. There's a specific placard there that says "Your community isn't just the neighborhood you live in. It's your city, state, region and the world." I'm totally paraphrasing that quote, but you get my drift. I love that. The Gates Visitor Center takes you out of your own 'bubble', so to speak, and lights the fire in your mind on how you can make an impact in the world around the causes that mean the most to you. So if you feel like 'getting lost in a museum' in a whole different way, pop into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center sometime. I guarantee your mind and soul will leave spinning with ideas - in the very best way.
Thank you, Davida, for giving us a tour of the Gates Visitor Center! If you visit the Gates Visitor Center, definitely take a tour with Davida or a team member.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center is open Tuesdays - Saturdays, 10:00a.m. - 5:00p.m. at 440 5th Ave. N. Street and garage parking are aplenty.
Register online for a group tour of the Gates Visitor Center.
Check out their events calendar for upcoming special programs.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center.