For media inquiries, to arrange interviews, or to obtain images, please contact:
Christina Claassen, Marketing & Public Relations Manager, 360-778-8936.

Modern Quilts Exhibition Travels to Whatcom Museum this Summer

Made by Nydia Kehnle, quilted by Gina Pina; Tessellation 4, 2015; 48 × 60 in. Courtesy of the Modern Quilt Guild.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2019; Bellingham, WA—Experience the power of modern quilting in an exhibition of 60 innovative and inspiring quilts that represent the best of the past decade. “Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century” is on exhibit June 1, 2019 through August 25, 2019 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building in Bellingham, Wash. The show is curated by the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) and offers the opportunity to learn the history of modern quilting from its earliest roots to its influence today within the arts community.

“This exhibition is important because it shows not only the influence of the historic tradition of quilting, but it also shows how modern quilters are breaking new ground and continue to create a new aesthetic,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “These are not your grandmother’s quilts.”

Kim Eichler-Messmer; Barn (Remnant), 2013; 72 × 88 in. Courtesy of the Modern Quilt Guild.

In addition to the unique display of quilts, the Museum will also feature a variety of hands-on activities inside the gallery for visitors of all ages. Workshops, lectures, and other featured events will provide opportunities for Museum visitors to connect more deeply to the exhibition, and to learn about the modern twist to this ancient craft.

“We are thrilled to share this exhibit with the Whatcom Museum,” says Heather Grant, director of marketing and programming for MQG. “This is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to see some of the best modern quilts being made today.”

Modern quilts express today’s aesthetic through a generations-old traditional craft, embracing modern design while honoring the past. Over several decades, modern quilts have evolved into their own unique branch of quilting. From the graphic work of Amish quilters to the legendary quilts of Gee’s Bend, modern quilts have been influenced by many hands and voices. Today they embody the best of functional art and design, featuring graphic color palettes, bold design elements, expansive negative space, and alternate gridwork while maintaining traditional quilt construction: three layers bound together by quilting.

“Modern Quilts” is curated by Riane Menardi Morrison, Alissa Haight Carlton, and Heather Grant of MQG and features quilts from the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway, and Germany. Learn more at

About the Modern Quilt Guild:
The Modern Quilt Guild is a nonprofit organization reaching nearly 15,000 quilters across six continents, in 39 countries. The Guild’s mission is to support the growth and development of modern quilting through art, education, and community. Learn more at

Bellingham National 2019 Juror Announces Top Three Artists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2019; Bellingham, WA— Guest Juror Bruce Guenther announced the top three “Juror’s Choice” award winners at the Whatcom Museum’s opening reception of Bellingham National 2019 Juried Art Exhibition and Awards on Fri., Feb. 1, 2019. The first place prize of $2,000 was awarded to Philip Govedare for his oil on canvas, “Artifact.” The second place prize of $1,000 was awarded to Natalie Niblack for her oil on canvas, “Watershed.” The third place prize of $500 was awarded to Patti Bowman for her encaustic on panel, “Wave 1.”

The exhibition opened to the public on Sat., Feb. 2 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building. The theme of this exhibition is Water’s Edge: Landscapes for Today and will be showing through May 19, 2019. 

Bellingham National features artwork that spans a broad range of media, from watercolor to oil painting, photography to collage and fiber art, as well as various styles of working from hyperrealism to abstraction. Fifty-seven artists from across the United States were chosen by guest juror Bruce Guenther, Adjunct Curator for Special Exhibitions at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. In addition to the Juror’s Choice Award, visitors have an opportunity to have their voices heard through a “People’s Choice” award of $500, to be announced the last week of the exhibition. 


About Bruce Guenther: Art historian and independent curator Bruce Guenther is currently serving as Adjunct Curator for Special Exhibitions at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. A specialist in post-war American and European Art, Guenther was the Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, until his retirement in 2014. Previously he was the Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, and head of the Modern Art Program at the Seattle Art Museum, Washington. He has curated major monographic and thematic exhibitions internationally, and authored numerous books and exhibition catalogues.


Whatcom Museum Welcomes New Education and Curatorial Staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 16, 2019; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to announce the addition of four new staff members. In the fall, the Museum hired Sarah Hart as the Education and Engagement Manager, Drew Whatley as the Museum Educator and Cyndi O’Brien as the Family Interactive Gallery Educator and Floor Supervisor. Joining the Museum staff this January is Amy Chaloupka as Curator of Art.

Education and Engagement Manager Sarah Hart helps remove vinyl lettering from an exhibit wall.

The new staff members bring a broad range of art, history and educational backgrounds, important for the Museum’s multi-disciplinary programs and exhibitions. Their expertise and professionalism will support the Museum’s mission of providing interactive and engaging experiences about art, nature and Northwest history to people of all ages.

Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sarah Hart graduated from the University of Denver with a Master in Curriculum and Instruction and has worked both in schools and museums. She was most recently the Coordinator of Tour Programs at the Denver Art Museum. Hart said, “I am devoted to creating engaging and thoughtful programming for learners of all ages and am excited about the new opportunities the Whatcom Museum presents to be innovative, daring and creative. I am also so happy to be in Bellingham and invigorated by Whatcom County and the surrounding areas.”

Drew Whatley joins the Museum from Orange, Texas, where he had been working as an Educator for Public History at the Stark Foundation. Whatley has a Bachelor of Art in History with a minor in Classics, and a Master of Arts in Teaching, both from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. With a background in both history and teaching, he designs programs, leads field trips and enjoys making history come alive for people of all ages. Whatley’s excited about learning the cultures and unique history of this area while considering new and innovative ways to share that information with both children and adults.

Cyndi O’Brien has an extensive background in environmental education and has spent many years teaching outdoor nature school and wilderness living skills to people of all ages, from preschool children to adults. Most recently she was an educational consultant and lead educator with the Fidalgo Nature School. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Education and said she is “delighted to work in a place where she can combine her passions for art, education and nature.”

“We are delighted to build our Museum’s educational impact with such an experienced group of museum professionals,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “Their skills will result in wonderful offering for our community.”

In addition to the new education team members, the Museum hired a new Curator of Art, Amy Chaloupka. A familiar name to the organization, Chaloupka guest-curated the exhibition Colorfast: Vivid Installations Make Their Mark for the Whatcom Museum in 2016. The exhibition featured large-scale installations created by four artists. Chaloupka’s careful planning, research and conceptualization of the exhibition were integral to the success of the show.

Chaloupka has more than 10 years of experience curating in museum settings, taking complex and creative exhibition concepts and transforming them into dynamic and approachable experiences for diverse audiences. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art from Western Washington University and a Master of Fine Art in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has exhibited widely and created several public works, including permanent installations in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Chicago, Illinois and Madison, Wisconsin.

“The Museum is thrilled to bring on board such a talented, creative and thoughtful curator of art with a stellar reputation,” said Leach. “It is wonderful that our museum staff had already worked with Amy previously for the Colorfast exhibition.”

Chaloupka serves on the Arts Commission for the City of Bellingham, lectures and teaches within the Art and Art History Department at Western Washington University and curates museum exhibitions, most recently: Crossover: Cruce de Vias, at the Western Gallery at Western Washington University in 2015 and Nek Chand: The World in A Garden at the Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 2017. She is also an independent curator for Kloop Studios, a design and curatorial consultancy based in Bellingham. Her most recent project has been leading the design of two permanent collection exhibition spaces for the Kohler Arts Center’s new Art Preserve building, slated to open in the Fall of 2020.

Of her new position at the Whatcom Museum, Chaloupka said, “I could not be more excited to hit the ground running and carry forth the Museum’s mission to develop dynamic and interactive programming related to our cultural, natural and historical landscapes. I am passionate about making art accessible and inclusive to the broadest audiences possible and provide opportunities for thoughtful conversation and increased understanding for one another. I am excited for the opportunity to collaborate with my new colleagues and connect with our community in this way through the arts.” The Whatcom Museum takes a multi-pronged approach to developing and displaying exhibitions. The process from exhibit proposal to installation to take-down involve a variety of people, from the director of exhibitions to the curator of art to the exhibition committee to the executive director. The Museum presents art and history exhibitions that are curated in-house, guest-curated or traveling from other museums and organizations. This approach allows for a broad variety of perspectives, artwork and stories to be shared. Chaloupka will be an integral member of the exhibition team, both curating exhibitions, as well as providing critical support to traveling and guest-curated exhibitions.

Winter Exhibitions Feature Washington’s World War II History and Artists’ Responses to Landscape

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 2, 2019; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum will be hosting two exhibitions at the Museum campus this winter: Washington Remembers WWII: Their Sacrifice. Our Freedom. at Old City Hall, January 19 – April 14, 2019 and Bellingham National 2019: Water’s Edge on exhibit at the Lightcatcher building February 2 – May 19, 2019. While these are two very different exhibitions, they provide visitors with experiences in Northwest history, as well as a view of contemporary artists’ engagement with the natural landscape, both paramount to the Museum’s mission-based exhibitions.

Washington Remembers WWII: Their Sacrifice. Our Freedom.

Before they liberated concentration camps or freed countries from tyranny, men and women in uniform fought enemy forces everywhere — in factories on the Washington home front and on beaches abroad. They braved the unknown, lived through the unthinkable, and changed who we are. Washington Remembers WWII features emotion-packed stories documenting the personal experiences of men and women from Washington State who fought for freedom on the battlefield and on the home-front.

This Legacy Washington exhibit was created through the Office of the Secretary of State to honor the tens of thousands of Washingtonians who served in the war. “The profiles allow World War II veterans a chance to share stories that haven’t been told. The time to hear their stories is now. Every three minutes in this country, we lose a World War II veteran. These heroes offer first-hand accounts of the war, a personal perspective to history, that we can’t afford to lose,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

In addition to the Legacy stories, the exhibit will highlight a variety of World War II artifacts, documents, and historic photographs from the Whatcom Museum’s collection, bringing a localized perspective into the narrative. The exhibit will be on display at the Museum’s Old City Hall building.

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

The Whatcom Museum presents the third biennial Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibition and Awards, Water’s Edge: Landscapes for Today, at the Lightcatcher building. Juried by Bruce Guenther, Adjunct Curator for Special Exhibitions at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Bellingham National 2019 will feature the work of 59 artists from across the United States. Guenther describes the exhibition as, “An effort through the jury pool at representing the investigation of contemporary art practices which address our collective understandings of the Earth, climate change, and the evolving relationships of humanity to Nature. The works range from traditional interpretations of the observed landscape to the metaphoric and spiritual manifestations of landscape through image, color, language, and the mapping of our felt responses to Nature and the world.”

Selected artworks span a broad range of media, from watercolor to oil painting, photography to collage and fiber art; and styles of working from hyperrealism to abstraction. The works selected by Guenther reflect the artists’ myriad responses to both natural or man-made landscape forms. Artists featured in the exhibition come from across the country, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

A members’ reception for Bellingham National 2019 Juried Art Exhibition and Awards will take place on Friday, February 1, 2019 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM at the Lightcatcher building. Three artists, chosen by Guenther, will receive cash awards of $2,000, $1,000, and $500 during the opening celebration. Visitors will have an opportunity to have their voices heard through a popular choice award of $500, which will be announced the last week of the exhibition. About Bruce Guenther: Art historian and independent curator Bruce Guenther is currently serving as Adjunct Curator for Special Exhibitions at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. A specialist in post-war American and European Art, Guenther was the Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, until his retirement in 2014. Previously he was the Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, and head of the Modern Art Program at the Seattle Art Museum, Washington. He has curated major monographic and thematic exhibitions internationally and authored numerous books and exhibition catalogues.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 1, 2018—The Whatcom Museum is excited to offer the 35th annual History Sunset Cruises this summer. Due to the popularity of last year’s sailings, the Museum is also chartering two additional cruises this year. Partnering again with San Juan Cruises for tour operation, the weekly cruises, which will sail in July, August, and the first two weeks of September, will be offered on Tuesday evenings and will depart from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven.

Starting Tuesday, July 10, and continuing each Tuesday through September 11, the Whatcom Museum’s popular summer cruises will take locals and visitors aboard the 100-foot Victoria Star tour boat. Participants get great close-up views of parks, businesses, industry, and neighborhoods from Bellingham Bay, with Bellingham historians Brian Griffin or Doug Starcher serving as tour guides. They will tie their knowledge of local history with up-to-date facts about bayside activities. Their narrative of history, trivia, and current events makes cruise guests feel they are becoming experts on their community, and gives new understanding of the area to both locals and visitors.

“It’s amazing that after 35 years, the history cruise continues to grow,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “It has become a popular tradition for our community to take family and friends on the cruise during the summer months as a fun way to entertain.”

The Victoria Star leaves from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven. The boat has indoor and outdoor seating on two levels, an on-board snack bar, and a full bar with a selection of Northwest beers, wines, and cocktails. Restrooms are available on board. Guests are welcome to bring dinner, snacks, and beverages (non-alcoholic) for a picnic-style dinner while cruising. Each sailing boards at 6:15pm, with a prompt 6:30pm sailing, and an 8:30pm return.

Tickets go on sale May 1st and are $35 general; $30 for Museum members; $28 per person for groups of 8 or more people (registered together). Purchase through BrownPaperTickets,, by calling 800/838.3006 ext. 1, or in-person at the Museum Store located at 250 Flora St. Bellingham, WA 98225. Proceeds benefit Whatcom Museum exhibitions and educational programs. For more information about the history cruises visit

San Juan Cruises is located at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Suite 104, Bellingham WA 98225. The Port of Bellingham charges $0.50/hour for parking, in the large lot with numbered spaces about 30 yards in front of the terminal building. Overnight parking is $6/day. There is free parking for up to 2 hours in front of the terminal. To learn more about San Juan Cruises visit


Richard Diebenkorn; Untitled, c.1988-92; Gouache, pasted paper, graphite, and crayon on paper, 9 1/2 x 6 3/8 in. (24.1 x 16.2 cm). Catalogue raisonné no. 4695 © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, March 26, 2018—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to host two traveling exhibitions that feature distinct styles from renowned artists. The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992, organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, features drawings and paintings on paper by this important modernist who lived from 1922-1993. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25, organized by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in partnership with the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, chronicles the history of one of the most important Native printmaking ateliers in the country. Both exhibitions will be on display at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building May 19 – August 19, 2018.

The Intimate Diebenkorn presents drawings, watercolors, oils, and gouaches on paper, showing the artist’s stylistic evolution through more than 40 years of his work. Richard Diebenkorn was an internationally-acclaimed California artist whose work is associated with Abstract Expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement. He earned a reputation for creating ethereal, large-scale abstractions, though he returned to smaller formats in his final years. The artist interpreted landscapes and human figures in a unique way, creating a delicate balance between abstraction and representation.

“We are very excited to be bringing this exhibition from the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, especially at a time when a larger, more extensive traveling exhibition of his work is making its way around the country,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “Although Richard Diebenkorn is mainly recognized as a California artist, he was born in Portland, Ore., so it is nice that we can claim him as a Pacific Northwest artist too!”

Diebenkorn’s artwork, created during periods living and teaching in New Mexico and California, “are the works of a modern master,” as noted by Chester Arnold, Sonoma-based painter and curator of The Intimate Diebenkorn. His personal experiences, especially the California landscape, shaped his style, perspective, and career.

Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25 features 75 prints drawn from the Crow’s Shadow Print Archive. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts is a nationally recognized printmaking studio, and the only studio located on a reservation community in the United States. Sited on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon, the studio brings together Native and non-Native artists from around the world to make prints under the guidance and direction of master printmaker Frank Janzen.

Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke, b. 1981); enit, ed. 12, 2010; Six-color lithograph on Rives BFK white paper with chine-collé archival pigment ink photographs on Moab Entrada paper, 22.375 x 30 in. Courtesy Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts.

“The Whatcom Museum is both pleased and proud to be bringing works from this well-established press,” said Leach. “Many of the artists represented are recognized contemporary Native American and Indigenous Artists.”

The artwork in Crow’s Shadow focuses on themes of abstraction, landscape, media and process, portraiture, and words and image. The exhibition includes text panels, chat panels, and a video that highlights the history and location of the studio. Featured artists include Rick Bartow (Wiyot), Pat Boas (US), Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes), Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne), Brenda Mallory (Cherokee), Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke), and Marie Watt (Seneca), among others.

The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992 is organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, Berkeley, California, with additional support provided by the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25 is organized by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in partnership with the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, with additional support provided by Mary Summerfield and Mike O’Neal, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham. Both exhibitions will be on view through August 19, 2018 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. The member reception will take place Friday, May 18, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, March 19, 2018—The American Alliance of Museums has announced that the Whatcom Museum has earned reaccreditation by the Alliance’s Accreditation Commission. Only three percent of museums in the United States are accredited by the Alliance. Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, 1,070 are currently accredited.

Through a rigorous process of self-assessment and review by industry peers, the Whatcom Museum has demonstrated it has met standards and best practices set by the Alliance, and shown itself to be a good steward of the collections and resources it holds in the public trust, as well as a core educational entity for the community and beyond.

“The Whatcom Museum was last reaccredited long before the construction of the Lightcatcher building, and many practices and policies were in need of being updated to today’s standards,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “We have been working for several years to prepare for this, and our professional staff and board have worked intensely in the past year to complete our self-study. So much work is invisible to the public, but what is evident is the result of that hard work in the many new permanent exhibitions at Old City Hall, as well as the ‘People of the Sea and Cedar’ exhibition in the Lightcatcher. It is both an honor and a relief that we have achieved this status.”

As the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field, accreditation signifies excellence and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for more than 45 years, the museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability. Accreditation helps to ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum collections, reinforce the educational and public service roles of museums, and promote good governance practices and ethical behavior.

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.”

To earn accreditation the Whatcom Museum submitted an extensive Self-Study and key operational documents for evaluation in 2017. Last November, a two-person team of peer reviewers conducted a site visit to further evaluate the Museum’s practices. The Accreditation Commission considered the results to determine whether the Whatcom Museum should receive reaccreditation, and the Commission just announced that the Museum has earned reaccreditation. The Whatcom Museum was last reaccredited by the Alliance in 2003.

About the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community.  For more information, visit


Isabella Kirkland, American, b. 1954; Gone, from the Taxa series, 2004; Oil and alkyd on canvas over panel, 48 x 36 in. Private Collection.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 30, 2018—The Whatcom Museum presents Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity, an interdisciplinary exhibition featuring 80 works of art, from rare books to cutting edge video, that span the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. It opens September 8, 2018 in the Museum’s Lightcatcher building and closes January 6, 2019.

Endangered Species highlights an international group of 52 artists who celebrate biodiversity’s beauty, interpret natural and human-induced extinctions of plants and animals, and focus on species from diverse ecosystems under stress. It also includes the work of artists who spotlight the human activities that threaten biodiversity alongside projects that revitalize habitats and reconnect people to the rich tapestry of life.

“We often read news headlines with alarming statistics and then turn the page,” said Barbara Matilsky, exhibition curator and Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum. “Artists take this information and create images that inspire emotional and thought-provoking responses. Hopefully, ‘Endangered Species’ will stimulate visitors to help preserve the planet and its biodiversity.”

Exhibition spotlights important thematic concepts
The first theme, Celebrating Biodiversity’s Beauty and Complexity: From Landscapes to Microscopic Imagery, focuses on artists who illuminate biodiversity’s stunning variety on its most grand and intimate scales. By examining the shared practices that inspire artists and natural scientists, such as exploration, observation, and documentation, visitors can learn what biodiversity is about and why it is important.

The second theme, Mammoths and Dinosaurs: Interpreting Natural Extinction, introduces the concept of the complete loss of an animal or plant species. When natural scientists first discovered fossils of early life, nineteenth century artists presented convincing visions of animals roaming primeval habitats in best-selling natural history books and panoramic murals commissioned by museums. The exhibition will showcase illustrated books and preliminary paintings for these majestic landscapes.

In the third theme, Portraits of Loss: Extinction by Human Actions, visitors can explore how artists transform scientific documentation about early human-induced extinctions of the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon, among others, into stirring portraits and still life paintings. Their artworks reflect meticulous research and analysis of specimens from natural history museum collections. By reviving past life in sometimes startling ways, artists imprint their memory on our consciousness and spark awareness about the contemporary extinction crisis.

The plants and animals interpreted by artists in the fourth theme, Endangered Species: Plants and Animals on the Edge of Survival, symbolize the threatened ecosystems in which they live and the global decline of biodiversity. The artworks call attention to just a few of the 10,000 “endangered” and “critically endangered” species classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. An illustrated timeline highlighting conservation milestones will be exhibited here.

Contemporary artists not only portray animal and plant species at risk, they also interpret the human actions that lead to their precarious status: habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, population growth, and overhunting and fishing. These issues will be explored in the final theme, At the Crossroads: Destruction or Preservation of Biodiversity. Within this area, the challenges facing several biodiversity hotspots, such as tropical rainforests and coral reefs, will be highlighted.

An uplifting narrative is interwoven throughout this section by including examples of how artists collaborate across disciplines to revive habitats and engage humans with the natural world. These multi-media projects serve as inspiring models for individual and community grass roots efforts towards environmental restoration and education.

Endangered Species has been organized with the intent of impacting public discourse about biodiversity while advancing the artist’s pivotal role in building awareness. By tracing links between contemporary and earlier artists, the exhibition examines art’s contribution to an enduring cultural legacy of nature conservation.

Featured artists include John James Audubon, Brandon Ballengée, Nick Brandt, Edward Burtynsky, George Catlin, Catherine Chalmers, Mark Dion, Madeline von Foerster, Nicholas Galanin, Ernst Haeckel, Martin Johnson Heade, Patricia Johanson, Chris Jordan, Isabella Kirkland, Charles R. Knight, David Liittschwager, John Martin, Courtney Mattison, Susan Middleton, Alexis Rockman, Christy Rupp, Joel Sartore, Preston Singletary, Fred Tomaselli, Roman Vishniac, Andy Warhol, and Yang Yongliang, among many others. A full list of artists can be viewed on the exhibition webpage. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity is supported by major grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and The Norcliffe Foundation, with additional funding from the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham. The exhibition opens September 8, 2018 and extends through January 6, 2019 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, Wash.

VIEW press images. Images available upon request by contacting Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager,, 360.778.8936.


John Sinkankas; Quartz Egg with Stand; Quartz egg with faceted corundum. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 10, 2018—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to host a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Jeweled Objects of Desire: From Ordinary to Extraordinary. This exhibition, showing February 3 – May 6, 2018 at the Lightcatcher building will dazzle visitors of all ages, as it features rarely seen items from the vaults of the National Museum of Natural History.

Each piece in this exhibition demonstrates the skill and ingenuity of various artists who transform simple materials into striking treasures. Whether it is a faceted quartz crystal egg, a gem-studded fishing reel, a gold seahorse pin, or a gold mouse trap with a diamond-encrusted cheese wedge, each of these creations irresistibly attracts attention and appeals to the imagination, encouraging visitors to think about why and how each work was made.

“As part of our affiliation with the Smithsonian, we are delighted to bring Jeweled Objects of Desire to Bellingham,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “It is our first time collaborating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and is a wonderful opportunity for our community to gain greater access to some of the Smithsonian’s extraordinary collections. In the exhibition, these precious stones ordinarily found in the geology of our planet are transformed into jeweled works of art.”

Presenting uncut examples of precious materials such as jade, amethyst, and quartz alongside the artistry of man-made objects, Jeweled Objects of Desirecelebrates the beauty of stones found deep within the earth. Highlights of the exhibition include a 7,000 carat quartz egg from Brazil, containing 240 facets (or surfaces) and resting on a gold stand embellished with 16 small and four large sapphires; a freshwater pearl corncob with 18-karat gold husk, inspired by the importance corn played in Incan society; and a 14-karat gold sardine can studded with Russian diamonds.

This exhibition features the work of a number of artists, but also includes a selection of artwork by internationally renowned jewelry designer Sidney Mobell. Mobell is celebrated for crafting common utilitarian items into unique artworks through the use of gold and precious gemstones. Among the spectacular works on view are a 14-karat gold cell phone encrusted with more than 250 gems and a golden mail box studded with 76.70 carats of precious and semi-precious stones.

Jeweled Objects of Desire is sponsored by Smith & Vallee Gallery, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham, and will be on view through May 6, 2018 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. The member reception will take place Friday, February 2, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building. Opening concurrently at the Lightcatcher is the exhibition Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America.


Dorothy McGuinness; Satellite, 2012. Watercolor paper, acrylic paint, waxed linen thread, 12 x 15 x 12 in. Lent by the artist. Courtesy of the University of Missouri.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, December 1, 2017 —The Whatcom Museum is pleased to host a traveling exhibition, Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America, February 3 – May 6, 2018 at the Lightcatcher building in collaboration with the National Basketry Organization and the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri. This is the only West Coast venue of this exhibition. The Museum will also showcase two concurrent basketry exhibitions at Old City Hall from February 3 – May 6, 2018: Hidden in the Bundle: A Look Inside the Whatcom Museum’s Basketry Collection, and a juried exhibition, Gathered Together: A Show of Work Celebrating Members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild.

In Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America, ninety-three objects provide an historical overview of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant, and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Historical baskets were rooted in local landscapes and shaped by cultural traditions. The rise of the industrial revolution and mass production at the end of the nineteenth century led basket makers to create works for new audiences and markets, including tourists, collectors, and fine art museums.

Today the story continues. Some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions practiced for centuries. Others combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Still others challenge viewers’ expectations by experimenting with form, materials, and scale.

According to co-curators Jo Stealey and Kristin Schwain, “Baskets convey meaning through the artists’ selection of materials; the techniques they use; and the colors, designs, patterns, and textures they employ. This exhibition will feel both familiar and alien to visitors. Some objects are very utilitarian while others defy every idea you might have about what a basket could be.”

This traveling exhibition is sponsored by the Northwest Basket Weavers, Vi Phillips Guild and organized by the National Basketry Organization in partnership with the University of Missouri. For more information visit Additional support is provided by the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum Advocates.

Hidden in the Bundle features a selection of baskets from the Whatcom Museum’s extensive Native American and First Nations collection. Representing different eras and cultures, the baskets showcase some unique, innovative, and even playful elements of design or decoration. The viewer can explore these creative and practical adaptations while pondering the role of individual expression in the world of basket-making.

Gathered Together presents a selection of artistic basketry at Old City Hall by members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild (NWBW) in an exhibition juried by Lisa Telford and Katherine Lewis, artists featured in Rooted, Revived, Reinvented. Members of NWBW will be available on opening day to talk about basketry and the artwork on display.

About the Northwest Weavers, Vi Phillips Guild
The Northwest Basket Weavers, Vi Phillips Guild began with a group of 16 people who loved to get together at Vi Phillips’ house on Whidbey Island, Washington to make baskets and share information. These weavers used reed, cedar bark and root, sweet grass, pine needles, and other natural materials to make traditional baskets. Thirty-five years later, the 180 guild members today weave both traditional and contemporary baskets. Several members are nationally known teachers and artists, who have baskets featured in Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America. For more information visit

About the National Basketry Organization
The National Basketry Organization (NBO) is a non-profit organization that unites people interested in basketry to provide education and to promote basket making. Founded in the late 1990’s, the organization now has over 700 members, most of whom live in the United States and Canada. Although most of NBO’s members are basket makers, membership includes collectors, gallery owners, scholars, craft and art schools, and museums.

About the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri
The Museum of Art and Archaeology advances understanding of artistic and cultural heritage through research, collection and interpretation. The Museum helps students, scholars, and the broader community to experience authentic and significant art and artifacts firsthand, and to place them in meaningful contexts. It furthers this mission by preserving, enhancing, and providing access to the collections for the benefit of present and future generations.