Why did the Gates Foundation build the Visitor Center?
The Visitor Center aims to motivate and inspire people to take action—in their own unique ways—to improve the lives of others. Through displays, interactive exhibits, and programs, we work to spark conversation about global and local issues and highlight the important progress being made in Seattle and around the world. We designed the Visitor Center as a place where people can share ideas, explore their interests, and experience the power of optimism about the world’s future.
Do you charge an admission fee or tour fee?
Admission and tours are free.
Do I need to schedule a visit?
You can drop in any time the Visitor Center is open (Tues-Sat, 10am to 5pm; until 6pm June 3-August 30) to explore our galleries on your own. If you’d like a guided tour, please book a tour at least 2 weeks in advance.
How long are the guided tours?
Tours are 60 to 90 minutes long and include a guided portion as well as time for independent exploration.
What times can I schedule a tour?
Tours are available 10am-4pm, Tuesday-Saturday.
How small or large can my tour group be?
There is no minimum group size. We recommend groups of about 15 people, although we can accommodate as many as 75 visitors at a time. We divide larger groups into smaller tours, each with their own guide. If your group is larger than 75 people, we recommend a format that consists of an orientation talk followed by a self-guided visit.
Where do I park?
Paid parking is available in the adjoining Seattle Center Fifth Avenue Garage. Several nearby on-street parking options are also available. We do not have bus parking at the Visitor Center, but we can help arrange pick-up and drop-off points. Please note that we cannot validate parking.
Can I reach the Visitor Center using public transportation?
We are easily accessible via the Seattle Center Monorail and Metro buses 3 and 4.
Is food available at the Visitor Center?
Food and drinks are not sold or allowed in the Visitor Center, but your group can bring sack lunches to enjoy on the park-like grounds of Seattle Center. We are happy to keep your lunches in our storage room while you are at the Visitor Center.
Is photography allowed?
You are welcome to take photos in the Visitor Center.
How often do exhibits change?
Our main exhibits do not rotate frequently, but our interactive gallery is constantly being refreshed with new ideas, suggestions, and inventions from visitors. Repeat visits can inspire a deeper connection to the work we highlight!
Our theater hosts a continuously rotating slate of videos and presentations. We also host public events that build on the themes in our exhibits and show ways visitors can give back to their communities.
May I visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus?
The foundation campus is an active work space for nearly 1,000 foundation employees and is closed to the public. However, visitors can take a cell phone audio tour that takes you to vantage points with ample views into the campus. The tour is available 24/7 at (206) 577-3617. You’ll learn about the foundation’s history and programs as well as the campus design, sustainability features, and artwork. (An audio tour map is available at the Visitor Center.)
I’m a teacher. Can you provide supporting curriculum materials for our class visit?
We offer activity ideas that teachers can use in the classroom before or after the visit. Visitor Center staff will follow up on your tour reservation request so we can send you the appropriate materials.
Can I rent the Visitor Center for events?
We do not have any public spaces for rent.
Who designed and built the Visitor Center?
Our employee team worked with internationally prominent design and fabrication firms to create the Visitor Center: