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 […]

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, Trautman takes a single exposure with multiple projected images contained within and draws attention to the concepts of splitting and projection and their role in the history of interactions with the colonizer and […]

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 […]

Lotus Eaters painting by Fay Jones

Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts

Sept. 19, 2020 - March 21, 2021; Lightcatcher building

Curated by Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art To mark ten years since the Lightcatcher building’s construction, the Whatcom Museum celebrates the works of art welcomed into the permanent collection during this time. We also acknowledge the long-standing relationships with area artists and patrons who have helped to shape and expand the collection through gifts of […]

Painting of the sea with sky and waves

Whatcom Artist Studio Tour 2020 Virtual Showcase

September 3 – October 17, 2020; Virtual Exhibition

For the past several years, the Museum has helped celebrate Whatcom County artists by providing a showcase of select artworks by those participating in the annual Whatcom Artist Studio Tour (WAST). This year, we are sharing this artistry through a virtual showcase, rather than in our Old City Hall galleries. WAST was founded in 1995, […]

Art of United States

Conversations Between Collections: The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whatcom Museum

February 1, 2020 - March 7, 2021; Lightcatcher building

The Whatcom Museum is pleased to kick off a five-year exhibition partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, as we present three masterworks from one of the nation’s most treasured collections of American art. Made possible through the support of Art Bridges and the Terra Foundation for American Art, two exhibitions titled Conversations Between Collections highlight […]

Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Shimizu. Manzanar Relocation Center, 1943

Two Views: Photographs by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank

February 15 – December 6, 2020; Old City Hall

Two countries – two photographers. This compelling collection of photographs presents two views of internment and incarceration in the early 1940s. The 1942 incarceration of people of Japanese descent in the United States and Canada following the bombing of Pearl Harbor is portrayed through this stunning collection of black and white photographs. Ansel Adams and Leonard […]

Suitcase and car

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II

Through December 6, 2020; Old City Hall

Righting a Wrong poster exhibition traces the story of Japanese national and Japanese American incarceration during World War II and the people who survived it. Young and old lived crowded together in hastily built camps, endured poor living conditions, and were under the constant watch of military guards for two and a half years. Meanwhile, […]

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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