Long-time Educator, Mary Jo Maute, Retires After 21 Years

For 21 years, Mary Jo Maute taught the history of the Northwest Coast people to thousands of Whatcom County school children, brought art to families experiencing homelessness, inspired high school students to consider careers in the arts, and taught adults painting and art techniques through various workshops. Last month, Maute, an education and program coordinator at the Museum, retired from her position, but her legacy will remain. Before leaving, Maute reflected on her time and experiences at the Museum.

How long have you worked at the Whatcom Museum, and what role(s) have you had?
Twenty one years ago, we moved to Bellingham from Montana, where I had served as the Curator of Education at the Yellowstone Art Museum. We were drawn here for this job at the Museum.

Maute teaches an ArtFUNdamental program to elementary school children at the Museum’s 2017 “Images of Resilience” exhibition.

My role has been planning and presenting programs that relate to the permanent and special exhibitions, most often working with school groups to enhance the school curriculum. The school program that has kept me the busiest since day one is the People of the Sea and Cedar tour and workshop. Pretty much every 3rd grader in Whatcom County and many from Skagit, Snohomish, and Island Counties benefit from this program. One would think that running this remarkable program for 21 years would become tiring, but I love working with children and everyone has a good time. Teachers praise the program and return each year because it fits so perfectly with the Washington State education standards and provides an authentic quality experience that is not replicable in classrooms.

I’ve also coordinated a variety of public programs, including talks by artists, curators, and historians, Family Activity Days (now Community Art Museum Day), Brown Bag lunch programs, Artful Pairings (opportunities for adults to get creative and learn interesting techniques while sipping wine), and concerts, which provide the community with opportunities to engage with our local arts and culture.

I can say with certainty that Mary Jo is a beloved art teacher, a well-respected colleague and friend of this community! –Susanna Brooks, Whatcom Museum Director of Learning Innovation

This past spring marked the 20th anniversary of the high school Art Career Day, a special project of mine. Art Career Day builds the next generation of artists, educators, and lifelong creative learners. This conference brings together 130 Whatcom County high school students and their art teachers for a day at the museum meeting with regional artists and college art department representatives.

I’ve also been the education department’s liaison with the museum intern program through Western Washington University’s (WWU) Anthropology Department.  It’s been a real joy to give college students a taste of what it’s like to work in a museum and engage with school groups and the public.  Read more

Partnership between Whatcom Museum and Bellingham Public Library Lets Anyone Enjoy Art, Nature, and Northwest History

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

The Whatcom Museum and the Bellingham Public Library (BPL) have teamed up to offer complimentary Museum passes to library card holders as a community resource.

The Museum pass, which are available for free to library patrons, allows entry for up to four people into all of the Museum’s buildings, including Old City Hall, the Lightcatcher building, and the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG). While there, visitors are able to take advantage of the exhibitions and programming that regular admission offers, including special presentations, and FIG workshops that are happening that day.

Bethany Hoglund, Head of Youth Services for the Bellingham Public Library believes that this partnership is important because it removes the roadblocks that prohibit some people from accessing arts and creative spaces in Bellingham. She also believes it helps further the library’s vision of being a place where all people, from babies to seniors, are able to find engaging activities and offerings.

“I love that this partnership with the Museum can be a natural extension of the public library, and vice versa,” said Hoglund. “Both have resources and materials to ignite creativity, challenge perceptions, and to explore.”

Last year, BPL distributed more than 380 Museum passes to people throughout the community, and the Museum welcomed roughly 650 visitors from those passes. The program has been expanded for 2018, with passes offered on all days that the Museum is open, Wednesday through Sunday. The Whatcom Museum and the Bellingham Public Library look forward to another successful year of the program.

“The more agencies within a community work together, the stronger the network of support and services for citizens becomes,” said Hoglund. “Partnerships such as this provide the opportunity for agencies to learn more about each other and learn from each other.”


For Those Interested:

To get one of these passes, library patrons will need to go online and register from the library’s website. Each family is allowed one set of passes every 60 days, and the passes are available only on the day selected by the person registering. There are only a limited number of passes available per day. Additional information can be found on the library’s website: https://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org/.

To sign up, go to the link below and select “Register Online.” From there, select the day you’d like to visit the Museum from the calendar. After that, fill out the form at the bottom of the page. You’ll be sent a confirmation email. Bring your confirmation—either printed or as an email on your phone or tablet—to the museum and show it at the welcome desk for entry.

https://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org/using-the-library/free-passes-to-whatcom-museum

 

Community Partnership: Audubon Society

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

Sometimes two organizations come together to better achieve their missions. The Whatcom Museum and the North Cascades Audubon Society (NCAS) are an example of this. Through an ongoing partnership, both the Museum and NCAS have produced a variety of events, and most recently an exhibit, that have informed and inspired people throughout Whatcom County to explore the natural world around them.

The partnership began in 2013 when the Museum opened an exhibit in the Syre Education Center that showcased the Museum’s collection of taxidermy birds and Native American artifacts on a limited basis (two to three times a year for 2-6 weeks at a time). Shortly after the exhibit opened, Museum staff invited NCAS to help assist with education programs about the birds. NCAS agreed and representatives from the Society spent time each month volunteering to be present in the exhibit to answer questions and engage in conversations about birds with Museum visitors.

A collage of birds set up in the “John Eden Hall of Birds” exhibit.

More recently, when the Museum decided to move its founding collection of taxidermied birds in 2016-17 from the Syre Education Center to Old City Hall and create the John M. Edson Hall of Birds, which is open year-round, NCAS played a key role in the exhibit development.

“When planning began for moving the birds to Old City Hall, knowledgeable NCAS birders joined in and we discussed key birds to move (ultimately they were pretty much all moved!), and important themes for the exhibit. These became foundational to the new exhibit,” said Chris Brewer, a previous Museum educator involved in getting Audubon active at the Museum, and the current Audubon Board Education Chair.

The Hall of Birds showcases more than 500 mounted birds and provides opportunities for guests to learn about migration, conservation, birds in peril, and the importance of studying bird specimens today. The NCAS is still involved with the Hall of Birds exhibit. Every fourth Sunday of the month from 1:30-3:30pm is “Audubon at the Museum,” where volunteer experts from the Society are available to answer questions that guests might have about the exhibit or birds in general.

The NCAS uses the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall as the venue for its monthly meetings and educational presentations on the fourth Tuesday of every month, 7-9pm. The public programs are open to the public, and highlight a diverse range of topics, from bird habitat to the effects of climate change on migration patterns to highlights on specific bird species.    Read more