Children's play area with tree stump tunnel, colored stepping stones, a mural of the seaside and the forest, a climbing platform and a small cave and slide for children

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.


Welcome Back to the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG)!

The FIG is reopen to the public at 25% capacity. During our closure, we’ve taken the opportunity to refresh the space with exciting new features. We’ve missed our FIG families and can’t wait for you to explore our new exhibits and show off your creativity in the art studio.

Things look a little different in the Family Interactive Gallery. With safety in mind, we have made some changes to the FIG experience.  Here’s what you can expect:

  • Timed TicketsAll visitors, including members, must make reservations in advance. Reservations are available Thursday – Saturday at two time slots; noon – 2pm or 2:30 – 4:30pm. Each reservation is for up to 6 people and lasts 2 hours. If you are unable to make a reservation online call us at 360.778.8930. Book a reservation. (Walk-in appointments may be accommodated as space allows, but advanced reservations guarantee no disappointment from getting turned away!)
  • Limited Hours – To begin our phased reopening, we will only be open Thursday – Saturday, noon – 4:30pm. We will add additional days and time slots when we are able to do so.
  • Limited Capacity – Following health guidelines, our visitor capacity is currently limited to 25% or 50 people per time slot.
  • Exhibit Manipulatives – Our hand-held toys and exhibit manipulatives will be cleaned and rotated between families or sessions. Many of our costumes and some fabric exhibit pieces have been removed.
  • No Food or Drink Except Water Bottles Our water fountain is temporarily closed, but you can bring a water bottle.  Please leave food, snacks, and other beverages in the car or at home.
  • Plan Ahead Please bring only what you need.  If possible, leave large bags and strollers in your car. We do have stroller parking right outside the FIG if needed.
  • Art StudioThe studio is open with limited capacity for creative play and self-guided activities prepared by our FIG staff. Our educator-led activities (Science Lab, ARTstarts, Storytime, & Music Makers) have been temporarily suspended. 
  • Birthday PartiesWe cannot host birthday parties or take party reservations at this time. Check out our Museum Store for great gift ideas.
  • Not ready to visit us in person? We invite you to try our virtual activities by exploring our FIG at Home page here!

Visitor Expectations

We are committed to providing a healthy, safe, and welcoming environment for all visitors. We are requiring our visitors to help us in our efforts by following our visitor guidelines including:

  • If you or anyone in your family are feeling ill or are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough or fever, please stay at home.
  • Visitors age 2+ are required to wear a face covering per the governor’s guidelines for museum operations, which will be enforced. For a list of exemptions, click here. The Museum will provide a disposable mask for those who need one. Reusable cloth masks are available for purchase at the Museum Store.
  • All Museum staff are required to wear face coverings in visitor areas.
  • Use hand sanitizer upon entry and throughout the Museum galleries.
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance from visitors not in your family or group.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Follow our directional signage and instructions from staff.

Cleaning Procedures & Policies

In the wake of COVID-19, we have updated our cleaning procedures to align with the latest recommendations from health officials.

  • We are using the time in between sessions to deep clean and sanitize the FIG.
  • We have “Dirty Toy Bins” around the FIG to collect dirty and mouthed toys.
  • We are performing routine cleaning of high-touch areas, common spaces, and exhibits throughout the day.
  • We use CDC and EPA-approved, non-toxic Force of Nature™ “electrolyzed water” cleaner to disinfect hands-on interactives.
  • CDC-approved self-cleaning NanoSeptic® skins have been applied to high-touch surfaces such as door handles, elevator/interactive buttons, and touch screens.
  • The Whatcom Museum has successfully met or exceeded the standards set by SanSee Safety Systems Certification for excellence in operational safety and hygiene. Read the SanSee news release
  • We are providing extra hand sanitizing stations around the Museum. Sinks are located in the restrooms and in the Art Studio.
  • Fresh air is circulated frequently throughout buildings daily.
  • Deep cleaning is performed after closing each day.
  • If you feel sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19, live with or care for someone who has been sick, or have traveled/live with someone who has traveled in the last 14 days, please visit us at another time.

Staff Safety

We’re all in this together! In order to keep our visitors safe, our staff are committed to following these safety practices, including:

  • Our staff are wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face masks and gloves.
  • We are providing a contactless check-in process. Reservations will be made in advance on our website and staff will remain behind a sneeze guard at check-in.
  • We are performing rigorous cleaning of exhibits and common spaces using CDC and EPA-approved, non-toxic cleaners.
  • We are maintaining a 6-foot distance from visitors and other staff members.

Like many other institutions, we are approaching re-opening with an abundance of caution. Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we navigate a reduced capacity opening with limited operating hours. We will be learning as we go and will make adjustments based on visitor experience and feedback!

COVID-19 Disclaimer: While the Whatcom Museum has implemented rigorous protocols to maintain a clean and safe environment, an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is a very contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and visitors with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By visiting the Whatcom Museum you, and all members of your group, voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.


Illustrated vector image of a pink pig with its front legs up in the airGeneral Information About the FIG

FIG General Info Phone Line: 360.778.8974

During inclement weather, call the Museum’s general info line, 360.778.8930, to confirm hours of operation.

Admission:

Admission to the FIG, Lightcatcher galleries, and Old City Hall:
Members: Free
General: $10
Youth (6-17)/Students/Military (with valid ID)/Seniors (62+): $8
Children ages 2 – 5 years: $5
Children under 2 years: Free

Reciprocal membership programs:
Members of museums that participate in the Northwest Association of Youth Museums (NWAYM) receive 25% off admission for a family (up to 4 people) by presenting a membership card and photo ID. See a list of Northwest Association of Youth Museums participating museums.

The Whatcom Museum also participates in the  North American Reciprocal Museum Association and the Smithsonian Affiliate museums.

Parking:

There is limited free parking at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street, for Museum patrons.  It is a one block walk to the Lightcatcher building, where the FIG is located. FIG visitors may also park on the street in metered spaces.  Metered spaces provide up to 2 hours of parking on weekdays between 9 AM – 5 PM.  Street parking is free on weekends.

Public Transportation:

WTA route 15 stops on Grand Ave. near the Lightcatcher, and routes 50 and 232 stop on Prospect St. near Old City Hall. For more information on fares, routes, and schedules check the WTA website.

Strollers:

We ask that only strollers with babies sleeping enter the FIG due to limited space. Stroller parking is available just outside the FIG doors, which are located inside the Lightcatcher building lobby.

Restrooms/Changing facilities:

We have two restrooms available, one inside the FIG, as well as one in the Lightcatcher building. Our child-friendly restrooms are wheelchair accessible and contain Koala Kare changing stations.

Food:

Food is not allowed in the FIG, or the Museum galleries; however, water bottles are allowed in the FIG only.

Additional questions?

Please email us if you have questions about your visit that are not answered here.