Creepy Collections: Discover summer scares in area attractions

You won’t need air conditioning to get the chills, this summer. It seems almost every city in our area is offering something a little spooky and freaky, from the Pacific Science Center’s “Science of Fear” in Seattle to The Oregon Zoo’s animatronic dinos to surrealist bird-people at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Here’s your guide to the best summer exhibits in our area.


Goose Bumps! The Science Of Fear at the Pacific Science Center. June 11 – September 5, 2011

This freaky fun at Pacific Science Center focuses on why and how we feel afraid. See what spooks you – and discover the science behind your scare. Give yourself a workout in the Fear Challenge Course, learn how animals use fear to survive and discover ways to cope with your worries.

Dinosaurs. Real Close at the Woodland Park Zoo and Dinosaurs! at the Oregon Zoo. Both run until September 5.

Both the Woodland Park Zoo and the Oregon Zoo are going dino-riffic for the summer. Jump into the dino train (well, your car) and travel back in time to over a million years ago into a prehistoric forest. There, you’ll meet real-sized animatronic dinos that roar, move, and spit. Kids will also learn about dino habitat, how dinosaurs evolved into modern-day birds and how archaeologists work – but they’ll mostly remember that ferocious T. rex. These outdoor dinosaurs aren’t as terrifying as the marketing materials might make them sound, but sensitive children may be spooked.

AVATAR: The Exhibition at the EMP/SFM. Through September 3, 2012.

Tweens and teens who enjoyed Avatar will enjoy this exhibit’s behind-the-scenes look at the movie’s production. Gawk at the full-size AMP (Armored Mobility Platform) suit, wonder over Na’vi character models and their wardrobes, learn more about the world of Pandora and play with interactive exhibits demonstrating how 3D technologies work.

Beauty and Bounty at the Seattle Art Museum. Until September 11.

OK, this one isn’t scary. Older kids and teens who’ve learned a little about The Oregon Trail will appreciate SAM’s cool summer display featuring over 100 works of westward expansion. Never-before-exhibited landscape paintings and photos demonstrate 19th an 20th century artist’s awestruck responses to mountains, plains and coast. Kids are often impressed (but no, won’t be terrified) by the oversized paintings that captured the scale and grandeur.


Narnia, The Exhibition at OMSI, in Portland. Until September 25.

Step through the wardrobe and into Narnia, The Exhibition. Explore C.S. Lewis’s creatures alongside props and costumes from the popular film series. But the exhibit doesn’t just focus on movie magic and fantasy – real-world science includes geography, archaeology and engineering quandaries and solutions.

Dinosaurs! at the Oregon Zoo. See listing above.

Vancouver, BC

The Colour of My Dreams:
 The Surrealist Revolution in Art, in Vancouver, BC. Until September 25, 2011

Vancouver offers a summer escape into a bizarre, unsettling world. This exhibit is a grand exploration of over 350 pieces of surreal art from around the world, including works by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Dorothea Tanning and other leading figures of Surrealism. Themes include desire, androgyny, violence and transmutation, so the exhibit is best for teens or very mature tweens.

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.