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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Women holding signs

Moving Forward, Looking Back: Washington’s First Women in Government

February 15 – May 10, 2020; Old City Hall

This traveling exhibit from Legacy Washington honors the centennial celebration of women’s suffrage and the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women in the United States the right to vote. Moving Forward, Looking Back: Washington’s First Women in Government follows the lives of 14 women who soared to some of the most coveted offices in Washington […]

partners

Feathered Kayapo/Mekranoti Headdress

The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality

February 1 - April 26, 2020, Lightcatcher building

The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality presents 87 hats and headdresses carefully selected from a private collection of more than 1300 extraordinary pieces of international headwear. This exhibition features hats from 42 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, and is a tribute […]

partners

Child dancing

Tribal Canoe Journeys: Paddle to Lummi

January 3 - March 8, 2020; Lightcatcher 1st Floor Hallway

The Whatcom Museum features photographs documenting the Tribal Canoe Journey of 2019, Paddle to Lummi. Since 1989, this significant cultural experience has occurred annually and is hosted by different tribal nations of and around the Salish Sea, with the Lummi Nation hosting the most recent journey in 2019. The canoe journey is a two-week to […]

Who Are We graphic

Who Are We? Washington’s Kaleidoscope

October 18, 2019 - February 9, 2020; Old City Hall

Washington is a kaleidoscope of more than 7 million people, each with a unique story to tell. Where do we originate from, and who do we become? Is there a quintessential Washingtonian? Hardly. History has made it clear that we’re more than our identity and more than just techies, coffee lovers, or outdoor enthusiasts. We’re […]

Minerals of the Pacific Northwest

What Lies Beneath: Minerals of the Pacific Northwest

August 17, 2019 - February 2, 2020; Old City Hall

Rocks and minerals are the foundation of our planet. Minerals are the basic geological building blocks of the solid earth. They can be dazzling to the eye as light catches the naturally occurring facets. To a trained eye, some minerals might be fairly easy to find with a bit of digging; others require rappelling down […]