When convening in the Greater Seattle area, the reigning cultural hub of the Pacific Northwest, attendees have access to a plethora of options that showcase creativity.
From a glass art venue in the “Emerald City” and a culinary arts facility in Seattle’s Southside to a variety of museums, performance centers and more throughout Tacoma, Bellevue and Snohomish County, it’s a snap for planners to incorporate a bit of the local arts scene into a meeting itinerary.
Three very different venues that both inspire creativity and host group gatherings await attendees in Seattle.
The newest is Chihuly Garden and Glass, which opened in 2012 below the Space Needle on Seattle Center’s 74-acre campus.
According to Kauilani Robinson, spokeswoman for Visit Seattle, the 40-foot glass house structure that features an expansive Dale Chihuly installation flowing from the ceiling, is adept at accommodating meetings and events.
“Groups may tour the Chihuly exhibit prior to the start of their event,” she says, adding that the eight expansive galleries here feature Washington-native Chihuly’s most comprehensive collection ever assembled.
Located downtown is the Seattle Art Museum, which houses a collection of some 23,000 objects, including Asian, African, modern and contemporary art, and European painting and decorative arts.
The museum is a wonderful place to browse or take a group tour for a couple hours, and it also hosts everything from intimate corporate meetings to 1,000-person galas in its variety of function spaces.
And the EMP Museum, one of the city’s most unique attractions, is a must-visit for groups interested in exploring American popular music, from rock and jazz to soul and punk.
It’s a one-of-a-kind event space, Robinson says, for planners to book meetings, seated dinners, large receptions for up to 3,000 guests and more.
Bellevue’s Northwest Arts Center, according to Sharon Linton, spokeswoman for Visit Bellevue Washington, hosts group events and also facilitates artsy hands-on opportunities for attendees.
“If you are looking for a team-building experience for your group, the pottery studio can hold up to 30 people and is available for rentals or instructor-led pottery or glass fusion parties,” she says.
Another great option for hands-on fun is the KidsQuest Children’s Museum, where interactive exhibits designed with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art and math are entertaining for kids of all ages.
Linton says the museum is available after-hours for private rentals.
“Companies or large groups can rent the museum for a more intimate evening of play and exploration, and KidsQuest staff members are always on-hand to help lead activities, facilitate programming or provide additional support as needed,” she says.
Bellevue Arts Museum, a center for the exploration of art, craft and design located in downtown Bellevue, offers three event spaces for private gatherings before or after regular museum hours.
Rooftop cocktail parties in the Court of Light, meetings in the auditorium and seated dinners in the museum forum are among the possibilities.
Greater Seattle is an altogether foodie paradise, and to the south of the city groups can celebrate this fact at the Albert Lee Culinary Event Center, which has hosted talent including celebrity chef Martin Yan.
Meeting planners can choose from a collaborative team-building approach that immerses them in culinary arts and results in a group feast, or select a competitive Iron Chef-style team cook-off, according to Ashley Comar, spokeswoman for Seattle Southside.
“It might not seem like your typical meeting space, but with a large boardroom and access to several working kitchen spaces, this is a fun and unique option to spice up traditional meetings,” she says.
Also in the area is the Museum of Flight, which represents a heralded part of Washington history as well as the art of flight and space navigation.
Here, groups will see the red barn where the first Boeing airplane was built, the original Air Force One and Concorde and the Full Fuselage Space Shuttle Trainer, used by NASA to train space shuttle astronauts, according to Comar.
Groups that visit the museum find it’s an experiential learning environment where several team-bonding opportunities await them, including a space shuttle simulator program designed to promote communication and teamwork.
Comar adds that groups can also charter a flight or use robotics kits to learn how to build a terrestrial rover.
Event spaces for group gatherings before or after exploration include a boardroom, theater and space gallery.
The eclectic lineup of arts options in Tacoma includes a performing arts center, art museum and another venue that focuses on the art of glass.
The Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, which includes the Pantages and Rialto theaters, accommodates meetings, corporate presentations, receptions and other events in its lobbies and auditoriums.
According to Grace Reid, spokeswoman for the Tacoma Regional CVB, behind-the-scenes tours of these historic spaces, complete with entertaining stories told by knowledgeable tour guides, can be arranged for groups.
“Then take in a show at the Pantages Theater,” she says, citing recent concerts by Lyle Lovett and Rufus Wainwright.
Elegant gatherings are accommodated at the Tacoma Art Museum, which opens up its atrium and galleries for groups.
Reid says the museum, which is undergoing a 15,000-square-foot expansion that will add a new wing by this fall, boasts a view of Mount Rainier from its second-floor balcony.
“This is a great urban venue that elevates any meeting,” she says, citing built-in decor courtesy of Dale Chihuly and other fabulous artists.
And at the Museum of Glass, groups will find the unique Hot Shop Amphitheater, which according to Reid features interactive glassblowing demonstrations and private access to exhibits and installations.
“For small groups, don’t miss out on the opportunity to blow your own glass keepsake with the help of an expert glassblower,” she says.
Interactive options are also available at the Schack Art Center, where artists of all levels can engage in the creative process during glassblowing demonstrations and various other group classes, according to Samantha Shaw, group sales manager for the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau.
In addition to diverse art exhibits, Schack offers two studios that are well-suited for corporate meetings, sit-down dinners or receptions for up to 135 guests.
Also in Snohomish County is Village Theatre, which Shaw says is a leading producer of musical theater in the Pacific Northwest.
Here, groups can take in a performance, including a staging of Funny Girl this summer, and also use the venue as a site for lectures, receptions, seminars and meetings.
Frequent contributor and Pacific Northwest dweller Carolyn Blackburn is a forever fan of the wonderful Rufus Wainwright and wishes she’d made it up to Tacoma for his performance at the Pantages Theater.