1889: Blazes, Rails, and the Year of Statehood

April 20 - July 21, 2019; Old City Hall

A year of big dreams, big burns, and big politics, 1889 captured a place in our history as a time of great prosperity and adversity. The face of Washington changed. Pioneers arrived, and townsfolk rebuilt from the rubble. Finally, on November 11, 1889, Washington rose as the 42nd state in the union. This exhibit from […]

Firsts in Flight: A Hidden History

April 13 – August 4, 2019; Old City Hall

Take a “timeline tour” outlining the significant contributions made by women and African Americans – particularly by African American women – to our country’s history of aviation and space flight. Meet pioneer aviator Bessie Coleman, who in 1921, became the first African American woman to earn her pilot’s license. And before her, in 1911 Harriet […]

All Is Not Lost: Images Salvaged from Damaged Glass Negatives

April 3, 2019 - January 2020; Lightcatcher 2nd Floor Hallway

Hundreds of glass negatives have been donated to the Whatcom Museum over the years, many arriving in damaged condition after decades of poor storage and rough handling. The pictures in this exhibition are derived from time-ravaged Silver Gelatin Dry Plate Negatives and will feature their accumulated scratches, cracks, lost corners, mold stains and water damage. […]

Bellingham National 2019—Water’s Edge: Landscapes for Today

February 2 – May 19, 2019; Lightcatcher building

Juried by Bruce Guenther, Adjunct Curator for Special Exhibitions at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

The Whatcom Museum is hosting the third biennial Bellingham National 2019 Juried Art Exhibition and Awards. Juried by Bruce Guenther, Adjunct Curator for Special Exhibitions at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, the theme of the exhibition is Water’s Edge: Landscapes for Today. Guenther selected artwork submitted by artists from across the United States that represents an investigation of contemporary art practices, and addresses our understandings of the Earth, climate change, and the evolving relationships of humanity to Nature. Works range from traditional interpretations of the observed landscape to the metaphoric and spiritual manifestations of the landscape through image, color, language, and mapping of our felt responses to Nature and the world. The top three artists, chosen by the juror, received cash awards at the opening reception, and the exhibition includes a “People’s Choice” award, based on the public’s vote for their favorite piece.

Juror’s Choice Award Winners:
1st place: Philip Govedare; Artifact; Oil on canvas
2nd place: Natalie Niblack; Watershed; Oil on canvas
3rd place: Patti Bowman; Wave 1; Encaustic on panel


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docent tours

Take a docent-led tour Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:30pm to learn more about the artists and artwork chosen for Bellingham National 2019 Juried Art Exhibition & Awards. Our trained docents will provide insight into the theme of the exhibition, as well as the background behind some of guest juror Bruce Guenther’s selections for the exhibition. Tours start in the lobby of the Lightcatcher building, last one hour, and are included with admission.

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, […]

docent tours

Offered on select dates based on volunteer availability at 2:30pm at the Lightcatcher. Check our online calendar for specific dates.

John M. Edson Hall of Birds

Opened March 16, 2017; Ongoing; Old City Hall This new 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 […]


Kinseys in Color

Ongoing, Old City Hall Curated by Jeff Jewell, Photo Archives Historian Before the development of color film, there was a way to make a color photograph — you painted it by hand! Known as tinting, it’s a meticulous, time-consuming process. The exhibition Kinseys In Color features fifteen examples of this art form by Darius and Tabitha […]

History Exhibits at Old City Hall

Ongoing; Old City Hall The Museum’s 1892 Old City Hall building features a variety of exhibits that tell the stories of the building’s architecture, the city’s early days, logging history, and waterfront industry. Green Gold: Logging the Pacific Northwest Relive the history of logging in our corner of the Pacific Northwest through photographs, artifacts, and […]