Upcoming Exhibitions


Long-Sleeves 12

February 6 - May 15, 2016, Lightcatcher Building

Member preview reception: Fri., Feb. 5, 2016, 5 - 7 PM in the Lightcatcher Building

Curated by Barbara Matilsky

Born in Bellingham in 1938, Ira Yeager has traveled the world and created a unique body of work that illuminates the characters and landscapes that he encountered while living in Florence, Corfu, Tangiers, Santa Fe, New York City, San Francisco, and Calistoga. Returning Home: Six Decades of Art by Ira Yeager marks the first Washington museum retrospective of the artist, who left Bellingham for San Francisco, where he studied with renowned painters Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991), Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), and Nathan Oliveira (1928-2010).  

This exhibition highlights Yeager's multifaceted approach to art where figures and landscapes, vibrant colors and abstract lines harmoniously mingle. Highlights include the artist's luminous Napa Valley Vineyards, playful interpretations of baroque and rococo masters, and the series titled Indian Paintings that occupied him for forty years. With 50 works of art, ranging from intimate plein air studies to large oil and acrylic canvases, Returning Home provides viewers an opportunity to appreciate Yeager's stylistic development over 60 years.

Bellingham exerted a formidable influence on the budding artist. His father, Ira Yeager senior, the founder of a sporting goods store that bears his name, outfitted and led fishing and hunting expeditions in the majestic Pacific Northwest. But Ira, born of a sensitive nature, could not stomach the killing and rejected its machismo culture. He found refuge in the world of art and began drawing at eight years old.

His father's store, however, opened up a fertile avenue of artistic inspiration by providing Yeager contact with Native American traders from Western Washington and Vancouver Island. Although New Mexico sparked the artist's interpretive series of aboriginal people, Bellingham provided the seed. But for the cultivation of his career, Yeager had to look outside the Whatcom County backwater to a cultural center with an established art school. He studied in San Francisco at the California College of Arts and Crafts San Francisco, and later found his own way in the world of art through his life-long love of travel, which has influenced his work throught the years.

Image credit: Ira Yeager; Long-Sleeves Series #12, 2007-2008; Oil & acrylic on canvas, 66 x 66 in. Courtesy of the artist.



February 27 - June 5, 2016
Lightcatcher Building

Opening Reception: Fri., Feb. 26, 2016, 5 - 7 PM, Lightcatcher Building

Curated by Barbara Matilsky

Faith in a Seed: Philip McCracken's Sculpture and Mixed-Media Painting surveys nature's inspiration for one of the Pacific Northwest's most distinguished artists. McCracken (b. 1928 in Bellingham) studied with British sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) in Hertfordshire and created diverse works that embrace both realism and abstraction, time-honored materials (wood and bronze) and newer media (resin and epoxy).

From animal sculptures to witty interpretations of contemporary life, McCracken has forged his own path, inspired by the writings of the 19th century philosopher Henry David Thoreau whose posthumous book, Faith in a Seed (1993), suggested the title for this show. Like Thoreau, McCracken celebrates the wonders of nature and captures its  beauty in his work. This exhibition presents a wide spectrum of the artist's sculpture and mixed-media painting, dating from 1952 through 2013, and underscores the duality of tradition and innovation at the heart of his career.


Philip McCracken; Sprout, 1973; Bronze, 3.75 x 4 x 2 in. Collection of the artist.


"Though I do not believe

that a plant will spring up

where no seed has been,

I have great faith in a seed.

Convince me that you have a seed there,

and I am prepared to expect wonders."

           - Henry David Thoreau


Opening Spring 2016
Old City Hall

Back by popular demand and displayed in the Old City Hall galleries, this exhibition highlights the rich legacy of landscape painting in the Pacific Northwest. All of the artworks, drawn from the collection of the Whatcom Museum, reflect the artists' search for a spiritual experience that was often described as sublime in nineteenth-century Romantic art and literature. At the same time, the twentieth-century artists featured here interpret nature and express their emotional response to the landscape through modernist styles.


Harold Wahl, Birth of an Iceberg, 1967; Oil on board, 36 x 48 in. Gift of Mrs. Harold Wahl.

NationalGeographic AfghanGirlWebSized


October 1, 2016 - January 15, 2017, Lightcatcher Building

Coming in the Fall of 2016, the Whatcom Museum will open the traveling exhibition National Geographic's 50 Greatest Photographs, which showcases some of National Geographic's most compelling photographs. From Steve McCurry's unforgettable Afghan girl to Nick Nichols' iconic image of Jane Goodall and chimpanzee to Thomas Abercrombie's never-before-seen view of Mecca, the exhibition includes some of National Geographic magazine's most-remembered and celebrated photographs from its more-than-120-year history. In addition to seeing the photographs as they appeared in the magazine, visitors to the exhibition will learn the stories behind the photos and more about the photographers themselves.

Image credit: Steve McCurry; Afghan Border, Pakistan 1984. Haunting eyes and a tattered garment tell the plight of a girl who fled Afghanistan for a refugee camp in Pakistan.

Wednesday - Sunday, noon-5pm;
open Thursday until 8pm; open Saturday at 10am

250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA 98225  

Family Interactive Gallery (FIG)
Wednesday - Saturday, 10-5pm; Sunday noon-5pm
250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA 98225


Thursday - Sunday, noon-5pm; for select programs.
121 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA  98225

Wednesday - Friday, 1-5 pm.
201 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA 98225

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