From Seattle’s well-known corporate behemoths—Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Costco—to its less-obvious innovators, like Nirvana and Dale Chihuly, a new permanent exhibition funded by Jeff Bezos — founder and CEO of Amazon.com — explores the idea that innovation is a key part of the city’s identity.
Generously supported by Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, the Bezos Center for Innovation is a groundbreaking exhibition dedicated to the theme of innovation, featuring multimedia, interactive and hands- on experiences as well as artifacts, images and oral histories that explore Seattle’s creative history and ignite the innovator within.
The 5,000 square foot exhibit is layered with rich narratives whose interactive nature facilitates discovery and enables visitors to become fully immersed in the creative process. The exhibition begins with the question, “What is innovation?” Alan Maskin, lead designer for the project notes, “The exhibit frames a dialogue around innovation—visitors have multiple opportunities to engage and offer their own perspectives…as part of the interactive experience visitors are invited to post innovation challenges, while future attendees will have the chance to write, draw, or build solutions to these posed problems—creating a crowdsourced collaboration and activating the collective conscious.”
Active participation permeates the Bezos Center experience. The “Idea Lab” invites visitors to communally identify and solve some of today’s most pressing challenges. In “We Shape our City,” visitors can take self- portraits in a photo booth and add their faces and ideas to the discussion. “Seattle Patent Tree” provides a three- dimensional history of the Puget Sound region’s inventive spirit, allowing visitors to take away original concepts of their favorite “Made-In-Seattle” ideas.
“Go Big!”—a 9’ x 12’ graphic novel—tells the history of Seattle-based organizations through five short stories about connecting, healing, working, shopping and moving, and “Launch Pad” encourages visitors to engage in an interactive exploration of the skills of innovation.
Collectively, the exhibit examines themes related to the power of place, common traits of successful innovators, what it takes to fully realize a great idea, and whether all successful innovations yield positive results.
all images © LARA SWIMMER