World’s Fair exhibit to open at Kent Museum

Glancing at a sparkling champagne glass on display for all to see, Nancy Simpson marveled at its uniqueness and significance.

Nancy Simpson

Glancing at a sparkling champagne glass on display for all to see, Nancy Simpson marveled at its uniqueness and significance.

“It’s just one of 200 that were used to toast the Space Needle,” said Simpson, president of the Greater Kent Historical Society, as she toured the Kent Museum’s latest exhibit.

The original menu of the Space Needle restaurant occupied another encased display. A crab salad sold for a $1, a surf-n-turf entree for $6.75.

“If we could eat up there at those prices, we would be lucky,” Simpson said.

Memorabilia of all kinds – from maps to models, ticket stubs to artwork, fashions to furnishings – grace the museum in its 50th anniversary tribute to the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.

The exhibit, which officially opens Saturday, can be found on the second floor of the historic Bereiter House, 855 E. Smith St. The exhibit runs through July.

The souvenirs and authentic collection of items came courtesy of donations from the Kent community.

Guests are invited to come learn about the impact the World’s Fair had on Kent and other cities outside Seattle.

“I didn’t realize the connection that the surrounding communities had on the fair,” said Stephen Chandler, museum director.

The exhibit begins with an introductory display describing Kent as a small but active community of 8,300 strong back in 1962. A campaign poster to reelect Mayor Alex Thornton is surrounded by newspaper clippings of major local events of the time, including the construction of Howard Hansen Dam.

A proclamation in proposed Kent as a viable site for the World’s Fair is an interesting read.

A television airs a PBS documentary of the ’62 Fair.

In a big room, posters and photos adorn the walls. Elvis is in the building, a corner devoted to the legendary “King of Rock and Roll” and his visit to the fair.

An iconic, futuristic chair occupies another corner. The chair (pictured below) was made specifically for Space Needle seating by Seattle’s Gideon Kramer, a visionary designer, artist and inventor.

The display is Kent’s small but expressive tribute to the fair.

“I think it’s important,” Simpson said. “It’s educating not only Kent, but it’s educating an event that really changed Seattle.”

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The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is a suggested donation of $2. Parking is available behind the museum off East Temperance Street.

 


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