A press release from Washington State History Museum.
Tacoma, WA – The Washington State History Museum is pulling back the curtain on three new exhibitions in September, and a bevy of virtual and in-museum events this fall.
“We are thrilled to be opening three new exhibits, each containing their own stories about the magical qualities of ‘place.’ Handstitched Worlds, A View From Above, and 360 each invite museum visitors to think in different ways about their surroundings and about how those surroundings are explored,” said Mary Mikel Stump, director of exhibitions and programs at the Washington State Historical Society.
Nearly two years in the making, 360 is the latest renovation in the museum’s Great Hall of Washington History. This vibrant, interactive gallery is full of insights into how the 360-mile-wide expanse of Washington, with its abundant natural resources, has sustained and attracted communities across time. From mountain and prairie to river and sea, relationships to place have drawn people here, while shaping the lives of those who have always called this land home.
A free public grand opening for 360 takes place on Thursday, September 16, from 6:00-8:00 PM. All are invited to hear welcome remarks at 6:00 followed by gallery tours every 15 minutes from 6:30-8:00. Exhibitions staff will be stationed throughout the gallery to talk with visitors. Masks are required, and 360 gallery capacity will be limited to 50 people at a time. Funding support for the 360 gallery was provided by the State of Washington, with support for the international trade kiosk from the Port of Tacoma. The History Museum is free from 3:00-8:00 PM on September 16, as it is on the third Thursday of every month, supported by Columbia Bank.
On Friday September 17, the museum opens bothHandstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts, a traveling exhibition from the American Folk Art Museum in New York, and A View from Above: Bird’s-Eye Maps from the WSHS Collection. Both exhibitions are on view through January 23, 2022.
Handstitched Worlds draws parallels between quilt making and cartography. Both quilts and maps are built upon established systems that use color, pattern, and symbols to create compositions from a network of interlocked parts. Both quilts and maps are infused with history and memory— they record and represent traditions, experiences, relationships, beliefs, and future aspirations. Spanning the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries, this collection of quilts features a range of materials, motifs, and techniques.
A View from Above will delight visitors with lavishly illustratedmaps drawn in a way that gives the viewer a sense of looking down at a city, as if they were flying above it. Popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, “bird’s eye-view” or panoramic maps represented cities and villages across the country. This exhibition features panoramic maps from the Historical Society’s collections, including locations in Washington, as well as a selection of tools used for surveying, mapmaking, and commercial illustration.
The Washington State Historical Society is also rolling out an array of events with local partners this fall.
“We’re launching a Challenging History program series, and we look forward to bringing these conversations to our community,” said Camille Perezselsky, the Historical Society’s director of philanthropy. The series begins on October 14 with Crossing Boundaries – Trans History, Then and Now, presented in partnership with KNKX Public Radio. ”KNKX’s Ed Ronco and Vivian McCall will be in the museum gallery with Crossing Boundaries curators Gwen Whiting and Peter Boag. We’ll share their conversation live online. Viewers will get a link when they register. This conversation will be an opportunity to learn more about the history of gender, identity, and changing cultural perceptions.”
The free University of Washington Tacoma Scholarly Selections series returns to the History Museum this fall. Visitors can hear from UWT professors and researchers in a relaxed museum setting on free third Thursday evenings. On October 21, professor Riki Thompson presents Gender Norms, (Dis)Empowerment, and the Digital Dating Paradigm, sharing her original research about online dating for individuals who identify outside of binary gender norms. On November 18, professor Orlando Balochi presents International Research on Environmental Monitoring and Energy Harvesting, about UWT researchers’ ongoing collaboration with peers at universities in Portugal and Brazil, studying new approaches to harnessing energy in nature to power sensors that can monitor pollution levels and more.
Family Saturdays also make a comeback at the History Museum, with Exploring 360on October 23 from 1:00-3:00 PM, and Stitching Stories with the PNW African American Quilters on November 6, 11:00 AM-4:00 PM.
And what about the History Museum’s best-loved annual holiday event?
“We’ve had a lot of community members asking about our annual Model Train Festival. I’m delighted to share that we are planning to host the 25th Model Train Festival from Friday, December 17 through Sunday, January 2,” said WSHS Director Jennifer Kilmer. “We encourage everyone to check our website for updates, in the event that COVID causes a change in course, but at this point we’re really looking forward to welcoming train fans of all ages.” This is good news for all those who revel in this whimsical holiday tradition; train clubs from around the region set up detailed layouts on every floor of the History Museum, and visitors get to watch model trains of different scales chugging through miniature landscapes, as well as participating in other fun activities.
There’s more to enjoy, including a virtual Veterans Day program on November 11 and the in-person History After Hours – Bootleggers’ Ball festivities. Check the Washington State Historical Society’s website for details about all upcoming exhibitions and events at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma: www.washingtonhistory.org/exhibitions-events/.