After reading about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center in a magazine on the ferry from Victoria to Seattle I decided to check it out. I’ll be the first to admit I can be pretty cynical and was wholly unfamiliar with the work of the foundation prior to my arrival so wasn’t sure what to expect…
The Visitor Center only opened in February 2012 and was not publicised in anything else I read, I actually walked straight past it at first and had to ask for directions in an office building, smooth. Once I got in there – I fell in love.
Pictured above you can see the moving panels in the wall that tell the story of Bill speaking to his Dad about giving something back and how the foundation evolved. The best part of the center is the interactive element. After you’ve read about how the Gates Foundation began and the tough decision process on who/what to put money towards, they ask :
WHAT WOULD YOUR FOUNDATION DO?
It’s a tough question! What would you say?
These quotes made me smile from ear to ear, it’s clearly and international positive message for people to work together to create a better world
The display above encouraged you to think about and enter into a conversation on huge issues such as climate change, biotechnology and education. You can see opinions from people within the Gates Foundation as well as others who have visited the center. You can sit in the chair and type your thoughts/opinions and watch them pop up on the wall. It would be interesting to know whether this gets edited by the exhibition curator…
The final room in the center was the most engaging. You start by taking a quiz to find your skill, you can take it here. The different stations pictured above relate to your skill so you can give your ideas which are captured in the memory banks of the museum – its so modern you can even post it to facebook. See the posters I created below…
The exhibition presupposes a certain level of knowledge, at first I found it a little intimidating, then I manned up and started to engage my brain and focus on the task in hand. You always know more than you think, although I have no idea about biotechnology so have been reading up on that.
There is a station toward the end where you are encouraged to make a pledge… the Center inspires you to think about what is important to you and challenges you to consider some mammoth issues. The other aspect which I trust has been considered is that all this visitor input will be great feedback for the work of the foundation and should influence its future efforts for the better.
I left feeling positive, motivated to gain further understanding of world issues and to give back. We live in an amazing world…
“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”
Entry Fee: FREE
Location: 440 5th Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109