Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Now Open to Visitors

Gates Foundation HQ
Source: Gates Foundation HQ

The Gates Foundation consolidated its operations with the opening of a half-billion dollar campus in the heart of Seattle summer 2011. New to the campus this spring is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center; opened last week, it will serve as a platform for communication and exploration between the foundation and the public.

“There is something in the Visitor Center for everyone,” said Jeff Raikes, CEO of the foundation. “You can dive into some of the most complex issues in really fun, interactive ways. We offer hands-on experiences so that people can see for themselves how innovative tools are helping improve lives around the world.”

The Visitor Center features four interactive galleries, each sharing stories of pressing problems around the world, as well as providing rich data, knowledge, and updates on successful solutions to social issues.

The Voice Gallery’s 180 portraits and “story stations” introduce the foundation’s key players to the public; the Family & Foundation Gallery explains the history behind the foundation and includes an explanation of its approach to philanthropy; the Partnerships Gallery highlights how investing in innovation can help improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations; and the Innovation & Inspiration Gallery gives visitors the opportunity to share how they would solve real-world problems. Galleries will be updated throughout the year based on creative content contributed to the exhibits by visitors.

The Innovators’ Forum event kicked off the public opening of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Paul Shoemaker of Social Ventures Partners (SVP) and Ashoka’s Anne Evans moderated a panel on innovation and failure, which focused on how social change happens—and how social innovations have sparked new trends in philanthropy. 

Featured panelists included Ashoka Fellows John Mighton of JUMP Math, Dr. Vera Cordeiro of Associação Saúde Criança, and Dr. Stephen Friend, president of Sage Bionetworks. These Ashoka Fellows were joined by SVP’s Tre Maxie and Eleuthera Lisch. A lead contact in the organization of the forum, John Sage, is Gates Foundation director of stakeholder communications (and an Ashoka Fellow for his work with Pura Vida Coffee).

The Visitor Center is located in Seattle along 5th Avenue between Harrison Street and Republican Street downtown (in the same building as the Seattle Center 5th Ave N Garage). Admission is free.

See a virtual walk-through via GeekWire.