Tacoma, WA — Has it been a while since you’ve stepped into a museum? The Tacoma Museum District is ready to welcome you with exciting exhibitions and events this spring. Get engaged with a wide array of cultural learning and fun in six world-class museums located along the Pacific Avenue corridor and close to downtown Tacoma. Here are a few highlights of what you can see and do in the Tacoma Museum District, and be sure to visit each museum’s website for details:
The Washington State History Museum is featuring The Negro Motorist Green Book from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service through June 12. Find out how Black travelers applied ingenuity and entrepreneurship to experience the joy of the open road during the era of Jim Crow. The History Museum is honored to bring the nation’s leading Green Book scholar, Candacy Taylor, for a free author talk and book signing on Thursday evening, May 19. Candacy Taylor wrote the book on which the Green Book exhibition is based. Other highlights include the annual juried exhibition IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts opening June 16 and featuring dozens of artworks by Native artists; Art of the Aloha Shirt: Keoni of Hawaii, 1938-1951, on view only from July 1 through September 11; and Family Saturdays where you and yours can be history detectives with themed self-guided activities. Military families will be interested to know that the History Museum will offer free admission for active duty personnel and up to five family members from May 21-September 4 as part of the Blue Star Museums program.
Spring is a time for renewal, growth, and expansion; we feel it in the air, but you can actually see it as Foss Waterway Seaport welcomes in Wood & Wheels, a new temporary exhibit pairing a 1949 Buick Estate Wagon or “Woodie” with a recently restored 1938 Chris Craft Triple Cockpit Runabout; talk about nostalgic! A facelift on our Rails to Sails and Balfour Dock Building exhibits (to be completed by early June) improves visitor flow as well as upgrading the exhibit’s equipment and technology, recognizing the historical contributions from individuals and organizations, and improving overall visitor appeal. And check out the installation of the Seaport’s Pollinator Garden; in addition to adding some long-awaited curb appeal to the museum’s exterior, the garden is a step toward the organization’s vision of creating a smart open space, intelligent landscaping and water neutrality…and oh yeah, this project will also serve as an opportunity to tie the original rails back into the building itself…SO cool!
The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, powered by Greentrike, has welcomed families to play at 1501 Pacific Avenue since opening its doors in 2012. Entry to the Museum is Pay As You Will, a donation-based admission model that promotes access to play for everyone. The Children’s Museum of Tacoma houses interactive hands-on playscapes known as Woods, Water, and Voyager. A new climber installed in 2021 provides dynamic play to challenge and engage older children. The Museum welcomes children’s creativity to flow in the Studio, an artist space equipped with paint, papers, pencils, and maker supplies to inspire the imaginations of friends visiting the Museum. In June and July, the family-favorite Water playscape will be revitalized with new features and designs.
LeMay – America’s Car Museum is featuring Reclaimed Rust, on public display for just the second time ever. This exhibition is the product of decades of design and building collaboration between rock music icon James Hetfield and some of the best-known custom car builders in the world, including Rick Dore (Rick Dore Kustoms), Scott Mugford (Blue Collar Customs) and Marcel De Lay (Marcel’s Custom Metal). Consisting of vehicles designed and custom-built by and for Hetfield, Reclaimed Rust pushes the limits of automotive design with billowing fenders, removed pillars, chopped tops, shaved handles, and sinewy silhouettes that the original manufacturers could never have envisioned. The collection is owned by and was first displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2020. It is on display at LeMay – America’s Car Museum through Jan. 31, 2023.
Tacoma Art Museum continues exploring new ways of looking at the Museum’s collection and featuring local artists. GATHER: 27 Years of Hilltop Artists highlights the outcomes and reach of the Hilltop Artists program while shining a light on opportunity gaps faced by these artists, many of whom have not previously been included in exhibitions of this scale. Opening in May, visitors can also enjoy a new look to the Museum’s collection of works by Dale Chihuly in Chihuly at Tacoma Art Museum Reenvisioned. TAM is also featuring selections from its collection exploring how American artists strove to define new, distinct styles in Departures and Divisions: Variation in American Styles, 1900-1950.
This year Tacoma’s Museum of Glass is celebrating its 20th anniversary. See the new exhibition Boundless Curiosity: A Journey with Robert Minkoff. The exhibitionfollows glass collector Minkoff’s love of glass by illustrating the mastery of traditional techniques and exploration of new ideas through remarkable examples from the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation Collection. The broad representation of artists, both national and international, tells vibrant stories of the evolution of glass from a studio craft material to an innovative contemporary art medium. On May 7 the Museum will also bring back its popular outside tours of the Thea Foss Waterway, running through summer. In late May, MOG, Travel Tacoma, and several downtown partners will welcome the international glass community for the 2022 Glass Art Society Conference. Conference events will span downtown Tacoma and include a brand new community event, the first TAG Festival: Together… in Art and Glass on May 22, free and open to the community. MOG also participates in the Blue Star Museums program offering free admission to active duty military and their families from May 21-September 4.