Celebrating our Matriarchs

This virtual exhibition is part of our collaborative Community Photo Project tied to Matika Wilbur’s exhibition Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women.

We all know women who have inspired and influenced us, taught us, raised and cared for us, mentored and encouraged us to become better people. From the past to our shared present, matriarchal figures have an enduring importance. 

As part of the project, we invited community members to share a photo of a matriarch important to them. Submissions were accepted during March and are now displayed below. We’re excited to share these photographs with you, along with words from the photographers. 

Do you see your photo and would like to add more information? Contact us at info@whatcommuseum.org.

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Female identified person with a black shirt and a white and blue skirt wearing a woven headband and standing near a body of water

Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women

March 13 – June 13, 2021; Lightcatcher building

Exhibition by Matika Wilbur In 2012, critically acclaimed photographer and social documentarian Matika Wilbur (Tulalip & Swinomish) sold her belongings and set out on the road to launch Project 562, a crowd-funded initiative to visit, engage, and photograph people from 562+ sovereign Tribal Nations in the United States. Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of […]

Blue and neon green squiggle designs on a detail of a blown glass bowl.

Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest

April 10 – October 10, 2021; Lightcatcher building

Organized by Amy Chaloupka, Whatcom Museum Curator of Art Celebrating a rich legacy unique to our region, Fluid Formations features the art of fifty-seven contemporary artists working in glass. The Pacific Northwest is the epicenter of glass, spurred by the establishment of Pilchuck Glass School on a remote tree farm in Stanwood, Washington in 1971. […]

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Photography by Jac Trautman

Jac Trautman: The Specter of the Young and Indigenous

January 28 - June 13, 2021; Lightcatcher Courtyard

Jac Trautman is a photographer and artist from Seattle and a member of the Duwamish tribe. With this series of seven photographs that incorporate splitting and projection techniques in their single-exposure frames, Trautman presents the various ways in which people project their idea of landscape onto the world. The photographs are installed as window vinyls […]

1968: The Year That Rocked Washington

Through May 16, 2021; Old City Hall

The year was 1968. Change was in the air. Everywhere. From Saigon to Seattle, Paris to Pasco. On college campuses, the campaign trail and evergreen peaks, Washingtonians were spurred to action. Legacy Washington looks back at 1968 and its impact on Washington state through the stories of some remarkable people who lived through it. On […]

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence

January 1 – July 3, 2021; Old City Hall

The story of women’s suffrage is a story of voting rights, of inclusion in and exclusion from the franchise, and of our civic development as a nation. In 2020, the Smithsonian celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment with Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. This dynamic poster exhibition explores the complexity of […]

Sonia Delaunay, Abstract Composition with Semicircles

Geometry and Color: Sonia Delaunay and Bellingham Public School Students

Virtual Exhibit; Ongoing

As part of their distance learning materials, local students were asked to make artwork in the style of influential, Paris-based artists Robert and Sonia Delaunay. While the Delaunays’ works have been displayed in exhibitions at museums around the world, it turns out that Sonia Delaunay’s work can be found closer to home. The Whatcom Museum […]

Man with cheetahs and mountain lions in circus act in 1910

Vintage Vaudevillians

September 19, 2020 - May 16, 2021; Old City Hall

Curated by Jeff Jewell, Historian and Archivist

Vintage Vaudevillians is a photographic exhibition that highlights a dozen vaudeville acts that performed in Bellingham in the early 20th century. Originally used to promote the acts, these publicity photos were saved by James Warwick, stage manager at downtown theaters during vaudeville’s heyday.

James “Jim” Warwick had a 54-year career in Bellingham theaters, starting as a stagehand at the Lighthouse Theatre in 1897. He was stage manager at both Beck’s Opera House and The Grand during the heyday of vaudeville in the early 20th century when Bellingham was on the competing Pantages and Sullivan-Considine circuits. Warwick worked directly with performers, catering to their needs and whims, and had a longstanding reputation as a dependable, gracious host.

Vaudevillians, once scheduled by a venue, commonly forwarded photographs of themselves to the theater for use in advance publicity. After their week-long gig, the promotional portraits were returned to the act or, more typically, thrown away. But Warwick kept them as souvenirs of the personalities and performances he witnessed on the Bellingham stage.

With the rise of motion pictures and subsequent disappearance of vaudeville, Warwick worked as a film projectionist for more than 30 years at the American Theater on Cornwall Avenue. After his death in 1967, his daughter Mary donated his collection — more than 750 photographs from the vaudeville era — to the Whatcom Museum. 

The Whatcom Museum acknowledges that we gather on the traditional territory of the Lhaq’temish – Lummi People – and the Nuxwsá7aq – Nooksack People – who have lived in the Coast Salish region from time immemorial. The Museum honors our relationship with all of our Coast Salish neighbors and our shared responsibilities to their homeland where we all reside today.

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People looking at an exhibition at the Whatcom Museum

People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the Northwest Coast

Ongoing, Lightcatcher People of the Sea and Cedar, in the second floor gallery of the Lightcatcher building, shares the history and art of the Northwest Coast people, blending both historical and contemporary perspectives. This exhibit features artifacts from the Museum’s collection, such as Coast Salish artwork and carvings, woven blankets, hand-made tools, cedar hats, clothing, […]

John M. Edson Hall of Birds

Opened March 16, 2017; Ongoing; Old City Hall This exhibit in Old City Hall provides a glimpse into the local history and culture of the Victorian Era, when taxidermy flourished and mounted animals often decorated interior spaces. For the Museum, this collection of birds is also important to the building’s history. If it hadn’t been […]

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