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

Whatcom Museum Showcases Contemporary Native Artists in New Series

Raya Friday with her sculpture

Artist Raya Friday stands in front of her sculpture “People of the Fire.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 12, 2019; Bellingham, WA — The Whatcom Museum is happy to announce a new ongoing series featuring Native American contemporary artists. “In the Spirit of the People: Native Contemporary Artists” will bring works by Coast Salish artists into the Museum’s galleries and public spaces on a rotating basis.

Executive Director Patricia Leach said the series allows the Museum to highlight outstanding contemporary artwork that will complement the ongoing exhibit “People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the Northwest Coast,” located in the Lightcatcher building.

“We want our visitors to experience the vibrant culture of Native communities, both through their traditions, as well as through contemporary artwork,” Leach said.

The series also provides the opportunity to work more closely with members of area tribes.

To kick off the series, Lummi Nation glass artist Raya Friday recently installed her piece “People of the Fire in the Lightcatcher building lobby. The sculpture of glass, bronze and stone depicts a series of flames, each with a hand-carved face. Friday said the piece represents the spirituality of the elements and the idea that “everything in the natural world has its own energy, its own spirit.”

The Museum has plans to include artwork within the “People of the Sea and Cedar” gallery, including works by Lummi Nation glass artist (and Raya’s brother) Dan Friday.

Victoria Blackwell, director of exhibitions and programs, said the “People of the Sea and Cedar” exhibit was originally designed to include a dedicated space to showcase the works of contemporary Pacific Northwest indigenous artists.

“The goal is to provide a venue that not only shows visitors the heritage and culture of the area’s First Peoples, but also celebrates the modern artists and their artworks that reflect their cultural history, their strength and unity today, and the resilience of their people,” Blackwell said.

Raya Friday’s sculpture will be on display in the Lightcatcher lobby through October 2019.

About the Whatcom Museum
The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is located in the heart of Bellingham’s downtown arts district. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., are open Wednesdays – Sundays, Noon – 5 p.m. Visit


For more information contact:
Christina Claassen
Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum
360.778.8936 |

Artist Ed Bereal’s Retrospective Exhibition Features Six Decades of Provocative Artwork Examining Inequity and Power Structures in American Society

Ed Bereal in studio

Jerry McMillan; Untitled (Ed Bereal Seated in Studio, Los Angeles), c. 1961–1964; Silver gelatin print. Courtesy of Jerry McMillan and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 31, 2019; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum presents “Wanted: Ed Bereal for Disturbing the Peace,” a solo retrospective featuring the full scope of Bellingham-based artist Ed Bereal’s six-decade career. The exhibition chronicles the artist’s diverse practice through never-before exhibited early drawings, dating from the 1950s and ‘60s, paintings, sculptures, assemblage and radical street theater. “Wanted” opens September 7, 2019 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building in Bellingham, Wash. and will be on display through January 5, 2020. The exhibition is curated by Amy Chaloupka, the Whatcom Museum Curator of Art.

“We’re thrilled to have more than 120 works by Ed Bereal presented in this exhibition,” said Chaloupka. “Many drawings and documentation of collaborative performance work from the early 1960s have never been exhibited before or considered in context with the more iconic assemblage works that Bereal is known for creating. I think audiences will be surprised by the scope and breadth in media and themes the artist has explored across six decades of art-making.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1937 and raised in Riverside, California, Bereal was a child who grew up in the shadow of World War II and the segregation and racism that afflicted his immediate community. In the face of this, he was accepted into the renowned illustration program at Chouinard Art Institute and went on to make significant contributions to the arts of assemblage and performance burgeoning in Los Angeles in the 1960s.

A shift in his work came in the summer of 1965 during the Watts Rebellion when Bereal was confronted by 10 National Guardsmen, including one pointing a machine gun at him. This profound experience prompted Bereal to step away from making commercially and critically successful artworks and move toward engaging members of his community in social justice work through guerrilla-style street performance.

Now living on a farm in Whatcom County, Bereal processes his life’s experiences through a spectrum of provocative imagery and narratives in paintings and installations he terms “political cartoons.” Many of Bereal’s more recent politically charged paintings and installations show a recurring motif of “Miss America,” as he examines racial inequity, gun violence, corporate greed and political power structures. These issues came into sharp relief for Bereal during the Watts Rebellion and persist at the forefront of our national discourse today.

Ed Bereal artwork

Ed Bereal; The Birthing of the American Middle Class, 1999; Oil on composite material; 80 x 50 in. Courtesy of the artist. Photographed by David Scherrer.

In the companion exhibition catalogue, essay contributor Vernon Damani Johnson, professor of political science at Western Washington University, writes, “Bereal forces us to think about the real place, in terms of our humanity, that the American ideal represents for those on the margins in the artist’s home country, as well as for peoples around the globe.”

Now in his eighth decade, Bereal describes a newfound freedom in his practice. He feels unrestricted in the multilingual approach that allows him to express a range of ideas through pop art, abstraction, painterly realism, appropriated imagery and assemblage. This freedom is visible in his most ambitious project to date, “The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Shown for the first time, the sprawling 40-foot-long installation is a visual manifestation of his uncompromising and unapologetic political and social vision of contemporary American society.

Bereal’s work has gained wider recognition at institutions such as the Getty Museum; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Cuba’s Havana Biennial. At the age of 82, the artist has never had an expansive solo museum exhibition and the Whatcom Museum is proud to organize his first major retrospective and accompanying catalogue.

Funding for this exhibition is provided by Larry Bell, the City of Bellingham, RiverStyx Foundation, Michael & Barbara Ryan and the Whatcom Museum Foundation, with additional support from Sharron Antholt, Antonella Antonini & Alan Stein, Patricia Burman, Heritage Bank, Galie Jean-Louis & Vincent Matteucci, Janet & Walter Miller Fund for Philanthropic Giving, Ann Morris, Peoples Bank, Charles & Phyllis Self, Mary Summerfield & Mike O’Neal, Jane Talbot & Kevin Williamson, Nancy Thomson & Bob Goldman, the Whatcom Community Foundation and the Whatcom Museum Advocates.

Related Programs:

Curator’s Gallery Tour, Saturday, September 7, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Lightcatcher building, Included with admission/free to members

Docent-Led Gallery Tours, Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays beginning Sept. 14, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Included with admission/free to members

Art, Politics, and Community: A Conversation Inspired by Ed Bereal’s Work, in partnership with the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, Saturday, September 21, 4 – 5:30 p.m., Old City Hall, Free

Curator’s Gallery Tour, Friday, October 18, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Lightcatcher building, Included with admission/free to members

Curator’s Gallery Tour, Friday, December 6, 1:30 – 2:30pm, Lightcatcher building, Included with admission/free to members

About the Whatcom Museum:
The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is located in the heart of Bellingham’s downtown Arts District. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street, are open Wednesdays – Sundays, Noon –
5 p.m. For more information about our exhibitions and admission visit


For media inquiries contact:
Christina Claassen
Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum
360.778.8936 |

Whatcom Museum to Feature Exhibition of Unique Minerals, Hold Artist Studio Tour Showcase

Minerals: Raspberry quartz

Raspberry quartz specimen. Photo by Rudy Tschernich.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 19, 2019; Bellingham, WA — The Whatcom Museum will be presenting a mineral exhibition and art showcase at Old City Hall beginning this August. What Lies Beneath: Minerals of the Pacific Northwest will run from Aug. 17, 2019 to Feb. 2, 2020 and Whatcom Artist Studio Tour Showcase will run from Aug. 3 to Oct. 13, 2019.

While different, both invite Museum visitors to see a slice of Pacific Northwest life, from the astounding and beautiful minerals found in our earth to artworks created by talented local artists.

What Lies Beneath: Minerals of the Pacific Northwest
The Museum has partnered with members of Friends of Mineralogy – Pacific Northwest Chapter to bring an incredible display of minerals to the Museum, all collected throughout the Pacific Northwest. Two unique quartz specimens, widely believed to be the finest in the world and rarely on public display, will be the highlights of the exhibition. Both minerals were collected from Denny Mountain in King County. What Lies Beneath will showcase more than 50 excellent specimens, including calcite, quartz, vesper garnet, thunder eggs, fluorite, aegirine and more. Also included in the exhibition will be samples of various marine and land fossils, including a cast replica of a “big track” fossil found in Washington and petrified wood samples.

Visitors to the exhibition will learn how minerals are formed and where they are found. Photos and video will document the field work involved and provide insight into the collection process. The “tools of the trade” will be on display to complete the story. Complementing the exhibition will be a variety of programs and hands-on activities.

Whatcom Artist Studio Tour Showcase
For the third year, the Museum is hosting a showcase of juried artworks from many of the artists participating in the annual Whatcom Artist Studio Tour. Visitors will get to see pieces in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, acrylic on canvas, oil on linen, sculpted glass, wood and pottery. Artists include Don Anderson, Ria Harboe, Stewart Wurtz and many more. See a complete list of artists here.

The annual tour is now in its 25th year and will run the weekends of Oct. 5 – 6 and Oct. 12 – 13. Each year the two-weekend event offers visitors insight into the creative process, work-life and work-environment of local artists while providing opportunities to support artists through direct purchases of their work.

Join the Museum Advocates from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, for a panel discussion by Studio Tour artists Brian O’Neill, R.R. Clark of FishBoy Gallery, Karen and Vernon Leibrant and Joy Olney. The program is free to the public and will be held in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall.

About the Whatcom Museum
The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is located in the heart of Bellingham’s downtown arts district. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., are open Wednesdays – Sundays, Noon – 5 p.m. For more information about our exhibitions and admission visit


For more information contact:
Christina Claassen
Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum
360.778.8936 |

Whatcom Museum to Partner with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Four Museums Across the American West in Five-Year Collaboration

Grant from Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative Supports Sharing of Artworks with Audiences Throughout the United States

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, July 9, 2019—The Smithsonian American Art Museum has received a nearly $2 million grant from Art Bridges and the Terra Foundation of American Art to support a five-year exhibition partnership with five museums in the American West, including the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. Known collectively as the American West Consortium, the partnership also includes the Boise Art Museum; the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon; and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City.

The partnership includes a two-part exhibition program and professional development sessions. The project is the latest in a transformative effort, the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative, to expand access to outstanding works of American art nationwide. A joint program of Art Bridges and the Terra Foundation for American Art, the initiative supports multi-year, multi-institutional partnerships among groups that include a metropolitan museum working with institutions in primarily non-metropolitan areas. Sharing collections and resources, these collaborative partners create a series of exhibitions that engage local communities.

“As the national museum for American art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum believes it is our responsibility to share our most valuable resource—our collections—with the American people, including those who are not able to visit Washington, D.C.,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “In addition to the hundreds of individual artworks that we loan to exhibitions around the world, SAAM has a longstanding traveling exhibition program that widens our audience reach exponentially. The Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative makes possible a unique exhibition partnership that complements this outreach. The generous support allows us to engage in a deep level of collaboration, learning and innovation.”

In the first set of exhibitions, partner museums will present artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection in focused installations that address interests particular to each museum. Selected works include paintings by David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Fritz Scholder, Alma Thomas and Domingo Ulloa. These exhibitions will be on view at the partner museums beginning in September 2019.

The second exhibition is organized jointly by all the partner museums and will feature artwork from all six museums. It will be presented at all six venues, opening at the Whatcom Museum in early 2021, with the Smithsonian American Art Museum as the final stop on the tour in 2023.

The scope of the exhibition will be determined through collaborations between curators from the partner museums.

A related series of professional-growth opportunities with staff from all six museums will allow for the development of new interpretive strategies and best practices for community engagement, among other topics. Information and updates about the American West Consortium will be available on the museum’s website,

“The partnership made possible by the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative funding opens opportunities for the museum to expand its engagement with young people, communities of color and immigrant and rural communities whose voices are intrinsic to the American experience,” said E. Carmen Ramos, deputy chief curator and curator of Latinx art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and lead curator for the project. “Without these voices, the landscape of American art museums fails to truly reflect and respond to the multiple, sometimes conflicting, perspectives that make up the American story.”

“This innovative partnership creates opportunities to expand the dialogue and widen the lens through which exhibitions of American art are created,” said Margi Conrads, director of curatorial affairs and strategic art initiatives at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and curatorial consultant to Art Bridges. Created by arts patron and philanthropist Alice Walton in 2017, Art Bridges is dedicated to dramatically expanding access to American art across the country. “We are proud to support these outstanding museums and their efforts to explore the issues that matter to their communities,” Conrads added.

“This initiative was born of a desire to bring outstanding works of American art to communities nationwide in a manner that sparks engagement and dialogue—both in terms of creation of works of art, as well our contemporary reception of them,” said Elizabeth Glassman, president and CEO of the Terra Foundation of American Art. “Bringing together the Smithsonian American Art Museum with these five distinguished museums in western cities of robust population growth exemplifies the rich collaboration that we envisioned and represents a new paradigm of partnership. Working together, these museums are creating thought-provoking exhibitions that will connect their diverse audiences with American art in dynamic new ways.”

About the Whatcom Museum
Located in Bellingham’s cultural district, the Whatcom Museum, a non-profit organization operated jointly by the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum Foundation, offers a rich variety of programs and exhibitions about art, nature, and Northwest history. The Museum’s collection contains more than 200,000 artifacts and art pieces of regional importance, including a vast photographic archive. The Whatcom Museum is accredited nationally by the American Alliance of Museums, is a member of the American Association of State and Local History and is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate.

The Whatcom Museum has two buildings with public hours: Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., and the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., both open Wednesday – Sunday, noon – 5 PM. The Family Interactive Gallery, located in the Lightcatcher, is open Wednesday – Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM; Sunday noon – 5 PM. Admission for Museum members is free; $10 general; $8 youth (6-17)/student/senior/military; $5 children 2 – 5; under 2 free.

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. The Renwick is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. Follow the museum on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Website:

About Art Bridges
Art Bridges is a pioneering new foundation dedicated to dramatically expanding access to American art across the country. Created by arts patron and philanthropist Alice Walton in 2017, Art Bridges strives to bring great works of American art out of storage and into communities across America. Through financial and planning support, Art Bridges helps organizations of all sizes build exhibitions and programs that deeply engage audiences. For more information, visit

About the Terra Foundation for American Art
Established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art is a leading foundation focused on fostering exploration, understanding and enjoyment of historical American art among national and international audiences. To further cross-cultural dialogue, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research and educational programs worldwide, and also provides opportunities for interaction and study through the presentation of its own American art collection.


Media only:

Laura Baptiste, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 202.633.8494;

Media website:

Christina Claassen, Whatcom Museum, 360.778.8936,


The Whatcom Museum Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing with Workshop, Film Screening, Artifact

Moon landing anniversary graphicFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 3, 2019; Bellingham, WA—This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the Whatcom Museum will be celebrating through a variety of activities for all ages. On Saturday, July 20, the Museum will host a rocket-making workshop for kids, a Smithsonian Channel film screening of “The Day We Walked on the Moon,” and a highlighted artifact from the Museum’s collection.

The workshop, “From Earth to the Moon Rocket Science for Kids” will be held at the Lightcatcher building from 10 a.m. – noon. This program, for ages 8-14, will be led by a museum educator and participants will learn how chemical reactions work while making, and then firing, their own rockets. After designing and assembling the rockets in the Lightcatcher Studio, students will go outside to the Lightcatcher Courtyard to test their creations. Adults, friends, and family are welcome to attend the rocket launch in the courtyard at noon.

The Museum will also present the new Smithsonian Channel documentary, “The Day We Walked on the Moon” in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall from 1 – 2:30 p.m. This documentary tells the story of this defining moment in our history. Interviews with key figures in Mission Control, contemporary astronauts, and the families of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong shine a light on how dangerous the mission really was and how close it came to failure numerous times. The documentary also features the Lunar Module “Eagle,” now housed at the National Air & Space Museum, as well as interviews with Smithsonian curator Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony.

Visitors can see a historic mechanical model of the solar system known as an orrery, or planetarium, from the Museum’s collection. Orreries were popular starting in the early 1700’s and provided people of all ages a method of understanding the orbits of planets and moons, and helped explain night and day, the changing seasons and even predict eclipses. This unique astronomical device will be on display in Old City Hall and illustrates the universal fascination with the solar system, long before the space race to put a man on the moon.

In addition to these special moon landing activities, visitors can see the exhibit “Firsts in Flight: A Hidden History” at Old City Hall. The exhibit offers a “timeline tour” that outlines the significant contributions made by women and African Americans, particularly African American women, to our country’s aviation and space flight history. Visitors learn about the “hidden figures” who played a pivotal role in the country’s space program, including the momentous moon landing. The exhibit includes a video narrative provided by The Museum of Flight in Seattle called “Doing the Math for NASA: African American Human Computers.”

Additional information:

From Earth to the Moon Rocket Science Kids Workshop

Sat., July 20, 10 a.m. – noon

Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St.

$30 Non-members/$25 Museum members

Tickets available at


“The Day We Walked on the Moon” Smithsonian Channel Film

Sat., July 20, 1 – 2:30 p.m.

Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St.

Included with admission/Members free


Orrery Artifact Display

Wed. – Sun., noon – 5 p.m.

Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St.

Included with admission/Members free


“Firsts in Flight: A Hidden History”

On exhibit through Aug. 4, 2019

Wed. – Sun., noon – 5 p.m.

Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St.

Included with admission/Members free

Orca Tokitae Totem Stops at the Whatcom Museum on its Journey Home to Lummi Nation

Lummi Nation carver Jewell James carved the Tokitae orca totem, which has journeyed across the country to urge for Tokitae’s return to her Salish Sea home.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2019; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum will host the Lummi Nation’s Orca Tokitae totem pole on Thurs., June 13, 6-8:00 pm at Old City Hall, as it journeys back home after traveling across the country. Making stops along the West Coast, hundreds will gather at various venues in support of the Lummi Nation’s mission to bring their beloved Orca Tokitae back to her native waters and family in the Salish Sea. Tokitae is the last surviving orca whale taken from the Salish Sea 40 years ago and remains in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium. The Totem Pole Journey from Miami to Seattle calls on the Seaquarium to take action now in planning the release of Tokitae to the Lummi Nation, and for all people to make a commitment to restore and protect Tokitae’s family and the home she knows as the Salish Sea.

The Tokitae totem will be parked outside of Old City Hall on 121 Prospect Street for the community to see. Beginning at 6:00 pm, guest speakers, including the Whatcom Museum’s Executive Director Patricia Leach, Mayor Kelli Linville, and Representatives Debra Lekanoff (40th District Washington State Legislature) and Sharon Shewmake (42nd District Washington State Legislature) will share the importance of this journey. Lummi House of Tears carvers Jewell James and Doug James will speak and share a song, and Lummi Council Member Fredrick Lane will emcee. Additional performances by Lummi student poet Duran Jefferson, poet Rachael Andersen, singer songwriter Dana Lyons, and singer Julie Trimingham will be included. At the event, the Lummi will announce a new name for Tokitae in a centuries-old tradition. The evening will end with a procession outside of Old City Hall to the totem pole for a blessing offered by local faith leaders.

What: A free homecoming event in support of Lummi Nation’s Totem Pole Journey to call for the return of their beloved Orca Tokitae, and a call for a commitment to restore and protect her family and the Salish Sea they call home.

When: Thurs., June 13, 6 – 8:00 PM

Where: Whatcom Museum Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA 98225

Participating Speakers & Performers:

Patricia Leach, Whatcom Museum Executive Director or Elizabeth Joffrion, Whatcom Museum Foundation Board President

Lummi Council Member Fredrick Lane

City of Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville

Rep. Sharon Shewmake, 42nd District Washington State Legislature

Rep. Debra Lekanoff, 40th District Washington State Legislature

Lummi House of Tears Master Carver Jewell James

Lummi House of Tears Carver Doug James

Lummi Nation Student Poet Duran Jefferson

Poet Rachael Andersen

Singer-Songwriter Dana Lyons

Singer Julie Trimingham

Voices for the Salish Sea

Rev. Charis Weathers (Echoes Lutheran),

Rev. Paul Beckel (Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship),

Rev. Jaco Ten Hove (Unitarian Universalist)

More Information:

Our Sacred Sea website:

Whatcom Museum Foundation Board of Trustees, Museum Advocates, and Museum Docents Recognized at Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2019; Bellingham, WA—Mayor Kelli Linville will honor the Whatcom Museum Foundation Board of Trustees, the Museum Advocates, and the Museum Docents tonight, Wednesday, May 15, at the 40th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. The event will take place at the Mount Baker Theatre in the Walton Theatre beginning with a short reception at 5:30pm followed by an awards ceremony at 6pm. The event is free and open to the public.

The Mayor’s Arts Awards honors local artists, organizations, and performances that have significantly contributed to the arts in the community. Award winners are chosen based on nominations submitted by community members.

The Whatcom Museum is proud to have its volunteer groups recognized for their contributions to the arts in Bellingham. The volunteer Board of Trustees, Museum Advocates, and Museum Docents contribute countless hours of service to the Museum’s diverse visitor base, through public programs, as well as behind-the-scenes activities. The Museum is grateful to those who volunteer their time and talent to the organization.

The Whatcom Museum Foundation Board of Trustees is comprised of seventeen volunteer members who serve three-year terms. Board members support the Museum by setting governing policies and overseeing operations of the organization. The Whatcom Museum Advocates (formerly known as the Guild) are a long-standing volunteer group, founded in 1968, who support the Museum in its mission through volunteer service, fundraising, and outreach, while providing social opportunities, community, and fellowship. The Whatcom Museum Docents are volunteer educators and ambassadors for the Museum, committed to making art, history, ethnography, and natural history accessible and enjoyable to the Museum’s diverse audiences through multiple weekly public and private tours of current exhibitions.

For more information about the Mayor’s Arts Awards visit

Bellingham National 2019 Juried Art Exhibition and Awards People’s Choice Award Winner Announced

Patti Bowman; Wave I, 2016; Encaustic on panel; 36 x 48 in. Courtesy of the artist.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2019, Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to announce the People’s Choice award winner for the exhibition Bellingham National 2019 Juried Art Exhibition and Awards. Artist Patti Bowman from Seattle, Wash., was chosen as the winning artist for her encaustic painting on panel entitled, Wave I. Bowman will receive a $500 cash award.

In Bowman’s artist statement she reflects on her work: “Staring at the ocean will wash your soul. It is the beginning of the world and the place that we all come from. The shore is a place where evolution can still be watched in real time, occurring in the same way it always did. Looking up and down the beach gives some sense of the scale and humility of that process, a non-linear unfolding in which there is no forwards, no backwards, no progress, no ‘better,’ no ‘good.’ Only constant shifting…Standing at the edge of the ocean helps bring me to the indifferent, non-linear, non-rational essence of the natural world, and I like it there.”

Bellingham National, which highlights the theme of “Water’s Edge: Landscapes for Today,” features two-dimensional landscape art. The artworks range from traditional interpretations of the observed landscape to the metaphoric and spiritual manifestations of the landscape through image, language, and mapping of our response to nature and the world. 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.

The “Juror’s Choice” awards were announced during the exhibition opening on Fri., Feb. 1 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building. Bowman was awarded the third place Juror’s Choice award, receiving a $500 prize. 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.”

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. The exhibition closes Sun., May 19. Learn more at exhibition/bellingham-national-2019/

Whatcom Museum Hosts Variety of Modern Quilting Workshops and Programs for Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century

Nationally renowned modern quilter, Luke Haynes, will lead a workshop, “Clothes to Quilts,” July 13, 2019 at the Lightcatcher Studio.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 2, 2019; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., is offering a variety of exciting workshops and programs as part of the upcoming exhibition, Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century, which will be on exhibit June 1, 2019 through August 25, 2019 at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building. Co-presented by the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum of La Conner, the related programming will offer opportunities for hands-on design and sewing, unique perspectives from quilters and conversations about current trends in modern quilting.

The Museum will host a panel of male modern quilters on June 8 for a discussion about “Material Men,” highlighting the work of emerging and innovative male quiltmakers. On July 13 and 14, nationally renowned modern quilt artist Luke Haynes, whose work is featured in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the American Folk Art Museum and the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will offer a hands-on workshop, “Clothes to Quilts,” using recycled clothing and modern techniques. Haynes will also give a lecture about “Artquilttexture,” sharing his career as an “architect-quilter.”

On July 27 and 28, Northwest fiber artist Marla Varner will give a lecture, “Modern with a Hint of Vintage,” describing how her quilts evolved from traditional designs to a modern aesthetic. She will also lead an introduction to hand quilting workshop that will focus on modern designs. More information about these workshops and programs, including registration, can be found at or at

Modern Quilter Marla Varner will lead a workshop, “Hand Quilting Intro and Inspiration,” July 28, 2019 at the Lightcatcher Studio.

About Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century
Visitors will experience the power of modern quilting in this exhibition of 63 innovative and inspiring quilts that represent the best of the past decade. Curated by the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG), the exhibition offers the opportunity to learn the history of modern quilting from its earliest roots to its influence today within the arts community. 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.

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 Support for this exhibition is provided by the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, Mary Summerfield & Mike O’Neal, the City of Bellingham, the Whatcom Museum Foundation and the Whatcom Museum Advocates.

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

About the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum:
Located at 703 North 2nd Street in La Conner, Wash., the mission of the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum is to present exhibitions and educational programs in all fiber arts that enrich and inspire, honor cultural traditions and celebrate the creative spirit. Its collection focuses on the textiles of the Pacific Rim that both exemplify tradition and reflect contemporary trends. The collection serves both exhibition and educational purposes, and ensures its preservation for future artists, enthusiasts and students. Find out more at Members of the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum can receive free entry into the Modern Quilts exhibition and related lectures, as well as member discounts for quilt-related workshops. These discounts will be applied by presenting their current membership card at the front admission desks at the Lightcatcher building and Old City Hall. Whatcom Museum members can receive free entry into the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum between June 1 – August 25 by showing their current membership card to the admissions desk.

Set Sail with the Museum’s 36th Annual History Sunset Cruises

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 1, 2019—The Whatcom Museum is excited to offer the 36th annual History Sunset Cruises this summer along Bellingham Bay. Partnering again with San Juan Cruises for tour operation, the weekly cruises, which sail the last week of June, July, August, and the first week of September, will be offered on Tuesday evenings and will depart from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven.

Starting Tuesday, June 25, and continuing each Tuesday through September 3, 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 feels like summer is coming earlier each year, so we are excited to get outside beginning this June to enjoy the history of this beautiful region while cruising along the bay,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum.

The Victoria Star leaves from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven, boarding at 6:15pm, with a prompt 6:30pm sailing, and an 8:30pm return. 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 for purchase. Restrooms are available on board. Guests are welcome to bring dinner, snacks, and beverages (non-alcoholic) for a picnic-style dinner while cruising.

Tickets go on sale May 1st and are $30 for Museum members and $35 general. A group rate of $28 per person is available for blocks of 12 or more tickets when purchased together. Purchase through www.BrownPaperTickets/event/4191750, by calling 800/838.3006 ext. 1, or in-person at the Museum Store located at 250 Flora St. Bellingham, WA 98225. Proceeds from the History Sunset Cruise 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