The Pacific Science Center is located at 200 Avenue North in Seattle, Washington within walking distance of the Space Needle. It is a non-profit foundation that serves over a million people each year, in every Washington state county. The mission of the center is to inspire a lifelong interest in science, math, and technology by providing an interactive and innovative exhibition and program display.
Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the New York World Trade Center, designed the complex. The walls of each building, composed of many pre-cast concrete slabs, form an arch motif used by Yamasaki in a number of buildings. The Science Center began as the United States Science Pavilion during the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Millions came to explore the wonders of science during the World's Fair and upon closing ceremonies, the Science Pavilion was given new life as the private not-for-profit Pacific Science Center, becoming the first U.S. museum founded as a science and technology center. On October 22, 2012 Pacific Science Center will celebrate its 50th year anniversary.
Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed December 24th at 3 p.m. and all day December 25th. Included with general admission exhibits tickets are six acres of hand-on science excitement, that include the Tropical Butterfly House, Planetarium, Discovery Carts, and Science Demonstration Stage shows.
The Tropical Butterfly House opened December 26, 1998. The goal in creating this 4,000 square foot exhibit was to build an immersive display that would provide a glimpse into a part of a world very unlike Seattle - a warm, sunny place where colorful butterflies are active 365 days a year. Seattle skies do not provide the light necessary for tropical species to thrive. Supplemental heat, light, and humidity are provided to sustain a tropical ecosystem among the cool, gray, drizzly days of the Pacific Northwest. Approximately 500 tropical butterfly species are imported weekly from South and Central America, Africa, and Asia.
The Willard Smith Planetarium engages its visitors in a welcoming, interactive learning environment where curiosity is embraced and ability to continue exploring is enhanced. The planetarium shows are free with a general admission ticket to the Pacific Science Center. The Planetarium is open to the public every day. School groups and other private groups can also reserve the Planetarium for a show whose content is tailored to the ages of the group. Planetarium visitors must be 4 years or older. Seating capacity is limited to approximately 40 persons and there is no late seating - visitors should kindly arrive on time.
The Center offers enriching camps throughout the year at various locations including the main campus Seattle Science Center, Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue, and at St. Thomas School in Medina. Summer camps fill quickly and early online enrollment is recommended. There is even science expedition to Snoqualmie Pass where snowshoes are not optional but required.