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

Fluid Formations Glass Art Exhibition Showcases Some of the NW’s Most Influential Artists

Five sculpted white glass blue-footed boobie birds

Erich Woll; Mistakes Will Be Made, 2014; Hot-sculpted glass; 39 x 14 x 75 in. Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of the artist. Photo by Russell Johnson.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, April 5, 2021—Celebrating a rich art community and traditions unique to the region, Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest opens April 10, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building. The exhibition features the art of fifty-seven contemporary artists working in glass. Organized by Amy Chaloupka, the Museum’s Curator of Art, and working in close partnership with Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash., the exhibition also includes works from the Whatcom Museum’s permanent collection, as well as loans from artists.

The Pacific Northwest is the epicenter of glass, spurred by the establishment of Pilchuck Glass School on a remote tree farm in Stanwood, Washington in 1971. Fifty years on, the region’s glass community has expanded significantly, defined by shared knowledge, teamwork, and an experimental spirit.

Chaloupka states, “There are more glass studios in this region than anywhere else in the world, and the world-class residency programs like Pilchuck and Museum of Glass have made the Northwest a hub of innovation for the medium. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase the wide-ranging works created here in the Pacific Northwest.”

In 1992, the Whatcom Museum organized the exhibition Clearly Art: The Legacy of Pilchuck. Nearly 30 years later, the Museum shows how artists are pushing forward innovation, community, and education in the field. The exhibition presents a striking range of processes and ideas that could only come from decades of generous exchange and shared passion for the material of glass.

Woman wearing orange and gray long-sleeved shirt looking and smiling at a black with white striated pattern blown glass snowman on a black countertop

Nancy Callan; Smoky the Snowman, 2019; Blown glass; 34.5 x 17.5 x 17.5 in. Photo by Russell Johnson. Courtesy of the artist.

Fluid Formations includes the work of 57 artists including Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Nancy Callan, Dale Chihuly, Jen Elek, Dan Friday, Kelly O’Dell, Preston Singletary, Raven Skyriver, Ethan Stern, Lino Tagliapietra, Erich Woll, and more.

To complement the exhibition at the Lightcatcher, the Museum will also feature a collection of glass birds in the John M. Edson Hall of Birds at Old City Hall. Birds by Toikka, made by renowned Finnish artist and designer Oiva Toikka (1931 – 2019) for the Finnish design company, Iittala, are on loan from Museum of Glass and will be interspersed among the Museum’s mounted bird display cases.

“The Whatcom Museum board and staff are especially pleased to partner with Museum of Glass for this amazing exhibition,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “I believe our visitors will be particularly impressed with the perspective that our Curator of Art, Amy Chaloupka, has taken in telling the story of how the glass artist community has evolved in the last 30 years ago.”

Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest will be on exhibit April 10 – October 10, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. This exhibition is organized in partnership with Museum of Glass and supported in part by Peoples Bank, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Media sponsorship provided by Cascade Public Media KCTS9.

New Exhibition Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women by Photographer Matika Wilbur

Female identified Indigenous elder wearing beaded necklace and a black dress

Dr. Mary Evelyn Belgarde, Pueblo of Isleta and Ohkay Owingeh, 2014. Photo by Matika Wilbur for Project 562. Courtesy of the Artist.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, March 3, 2021—The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash. presents a new exhibition, “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” by Matika Wilbur, a photographer from the Tulalip and Swinomish Tribes and the creator and director of Project 562. The exhibition opens at the Lightcatcher building March 13, 2021 and features 28 photographs of Native American women, along with interviews, written narratives and an audio compilation featuring the sitters’ sharing their stories.

Wilbur is the only Native American photographer to be welcomed into more than 500 Native American sovereign Nations in the United States. For the past nine years, Wilbur has collaborated with scores of tribes to share the images and truths of Native American peoples.

In the exhibition, Wilbur has curated the striking photographs from among the thousands of portraits she has taken in recent years. Written narratives and audio of the interviews she conducts as part of her project accompany the photographs. Elders, activists, educators, culture-bearers, artists and students have shared with Wilbur their realities as Native women. They convey how ancestral and contemporary identities shape their lives and hopes in Indian Country.

Female identified Indigenous person in a color portrait wearing a beaded necklace and sleeveless top

Juanita Toledo, Pueblo of Jemez, 2015. Photo by Matika Wilbur for Project 562. Courtesy of the Artist.

“We portray the extraordinary lives and stories of Native women throughout North America. I believe the viewers will experience great understanding and connection with these remarkable women, just as they have enlightened and inspired me,” explains Wilbur. “Native women are traditionally the stewards of the vital relationship with land, and have remained principal advocates for Mother Earth, from fracking protests to enduring matrilineal values. By exposing the astonishing variety of the Indigenous presence and reality, we will build cultural bridges, abandon stereotypes, and renew and inspire our national legacy.”

Visitors will see photographs that glimpse into the lives of Native women from across the Northwest and Turtle Island. The exhibition includes new images taken of Northwest Native women, including a mother-to-be from the Lummi Nation.

“We are grateful to Matika Wilbur for sharing her powerful images with our community, which shine light on the dynamic experiences of Indigenous women,” says Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art. “It’s especially exciting that Wilbur will be including new works that highlight the stories of women from our region’s sovereign Nations.”

The exhibition has inspired the Whatcom Museum to host a community photo project through the month of March called “Celebrating Our Matriarchs.” The project invites community members to submit photographs celebrating matriarchs and will culminate in a virtual exhibition on the Museum’s website. Three photography workshops are also offered to help people learn photography skills and techniques on March 6, 13 and 20. The Museum is also excited to partner with Whatcom Community College to engage with different audiences and students, expanding the possibilities for additional programming related to Wilbur’s exhibition during early summer.

Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” will be on exhibit March 13 – June 13, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. The Museum is currently open for general admission at 25% capacity. For more information about the Museum’s Covid-19 response and protocols visit our Covid-19 response page.

“Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” was originally shown at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. The Whatcom Museum’s showing of the exhibition is presented by the Lhaq’temish Foundation, Lummi Nation, with additional support from Jean Andresen, Rafeeka & Neal Kloke, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and Grantmakers for Girls of Color.

 About Matika Wilbur
Matika Wilbur, one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading photographers, has exhibited extensively in regional, national and international venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, The Tacoma Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts and the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts in France. She studied photography at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana and received a bachelor’s degree from Brooks Institute of Photography in California. Her work led her to becoming a certified teacher at Tulalip Heritage High School, providing inspiration for the youth of her own indigenous community. Wilbur, a Native American woman of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes (Washington), is unique as an artist and social documentarian in Indian Country—the insight, depth and passion with which she explores the contemporary Native identity and experience are communicated through the impeccable artistry of each of her silver gelatin photographs. Her collection of photographs and narratives from Project 562 is soon to be published by Ten Speed Press/Random House. Learn more about Matika at, Project 562 at, or check out her Instagram account.

“Anatomy of a Collection” to Showcase Recent Acquisitions from the Past Decade

Painting of a chair

Gwendolyn Knight;
“Interior,” 1941; watercolor; 17 x 17 in. Gift of the Washington Art
Consortium through gift of
Safeco Insurance, a
member of the Liberty Mutual Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, September 3, 2020—To mark ten years since the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building’s construction, the Museum celebrates works of art welcomed into the permanent collection throughout the last decade in the exhibition, “Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” curated by Amy Chaloupka, the Museum’s Curator of Art. This exhibition reflects the long-standing relationships with artists, institutions and donors who have helped shape and expand the Museum’s collection through gifts of art. The exhibition will debut Sept. 19 at the Lightcatcher building when the Museum reopens to the public in phase 2 of Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

Nearly 70 artworks will be displayed reflecting the Museum’s goals to extend into new areas of collecting, centered around expanding conversations and interests of today’s audiences. Many recent acquisitions and promised gifts are created by under-represented artists and focus on a multiplicity of perspectives, variety of themes and diverse media.

“As you walk through the space you can begin to see connection points between works that represent several areas of focus for the collection. Many of the artists in the exhibition knew and supported each other, learned from the same mentors or taught at the same institutions,” says Chaloupka. “The common ground across the exhibition is connection and growth through relationships. Artists don’t work and generate ideas in isolated bubbles, and museums don’t operate successfully without the integral relationships built with artists, donors and the larger community. The exhibition reflects all of these interconnected relationships.”

Wire hair and poetry sculpture

Lesley Dill; Shimmer, 2005 – 2006; Wire, metal foil, 12 ft. x 60 ft. x 15 ft. Whatcom Museum # 2015.17.1

Several new collection pieces expand existing holdings of significant works by Pacific Northwest artists including Wendell Brazeau, Mary Henry, Clayton James, Mark Tobey and more. Other acquisitions are tied to important solo exhibitions hosted by the Museum that delve deep into an artist’s practice and career, such as Ed Bereal, John Cole, Lesley Dill and John Grade.

“Anatomy of a Collection” also provides a unique look at the internal workings of museum collecting practices, making this process transparent to the community it serves. The Museum values the idea that the artworks preserved in its buildings are held in public trust and serve as important visual connection points for education, critical analysis, preservation of culture and storytelling.

“As the Whatcom Museum approaches its 80th year as a museum, we have expanded our capacities in many ways, including increasing collection storage and focus,” Chaloupka states. “Works generally enter the Museum collection through private donors, organizations or through the artists themselves. With funds for acquisitions limited, the generosity of artists and donors and their contributions are essential to maintaining the vibrancy of this community collection for years to come.”

Chaloupka adds that including diverse perspectives and artists in the collection supports the Museum’s mission to stimulate inquiry about our changing cultural, natural and historical landscapes and deepens exhibition and educational programming.

“Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” will be on exhibit Sept. 19, 2020 – March 7, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. For more information about the Museum’s Covid-19 response and re-opening plans visit

Funding for this exhibition has been provided by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the Museum Advocates and the City of Bellingham. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with additional support provided by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.

Museum to Reopen at Limited Capacity in Phase 2

Galleries opening September 19 with COVID-19 safety measures in place

Partial image of Old City Hall with diagonal line and partial image of Lightcatcher buildingFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2020—The Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher galleries, Museum Store and Old City Hall will reopen to the public Sat., Sept. 19, 2020 under Governor Jay Inslee’s amended Phase 2 Safe Start plan for museums. Member-only days will be offered Sept. 16-18. The Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) will reopen at a later date. Photo Archives will be open by appointment only. The Museum will initially be open with limited capacity of 25 percent on Wednesdays through Sundays, with hours from noon – 4:30pm.

“We are so excited to finally be able to open once again and see our members and guests after such a long hiatus,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “We have rigorous safety protocols in place, often exceeding state health guidelines, in our effort to make our guests feel comfortable and safe when they visit, and we hope to see people back in our doors soon!”

Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood added, “We are pleased to reopen the Whatcom Museum with strict measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our Museum galleries will be a popular recreation and cultural option for community members and visitors as we look toward fall and seek safe indoor activities.”

The Museum must ensure strict adherence to all measures established by Governor Inslee’s guidance. Visitors can expect several safety protocols put into place, and the Museum will be following guidelines from the American Alliance of Museums, as well as enlisting the help of Sansee Shield, a private COVID-19 certification company to certify its safety standards. Guidelines are subject to change according to the governor’s office and health department recommendations.

Safety protocols include, but are not limited to:

  • All Museum staff are required to wear face coverings in visitor areas.
  • 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.
  • Sneeze guards have been installed at admission and check-in areas.
  • Admissions, store purchases and other transactions will have limited contact.
  • Visitors checking in must wait in line six (6) feet apart from those not in their group until Admissions staff calls them forward.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations are available throughout the museum.
  • Visitors must stay at least six (6) feet apart from those not in their group.
  • Increased signage has been posted for directional flow and distancing.
  • Reduced number of visitors allowed inside galleries.
  • One family group allowed in the Museum Store at a time, with one-way directional flow.
  • CDC-approved, non-toxic Force of Nature™ electrolysis cleaner is being used 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.
  • Restrooms will have waiting areas and/or directional flow signage to promote social distancing.
  • Lockers will not be available. Coat areas will have two-way directional flow signage.
  • Fresh air will be circulated frequently throughout buildings daily.
  • Increased intervals of sanitation with deep cleaning performed after closing.
  • If visitors 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, we ask they visit us at another time.

The Museum will not be hosting in-person school tours, programs, lectures or public gatherings during this phase of reopening. Event rentals have been canceled through the end of the year. Museum programs will continue to be held virtually. For updates visit the Museum’s COVID-19 response page.

Museum Launches Community Art Project, Participates in Statewide Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour

Whatcom Squared colored plastic squareFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 12, 2020—The Whatcom Museum is launching a new community art project this month called Whatcom2 (Whatcom Squared). Community members will turn the Lightcatcher building’s glass Lightwall into a massive “stained glass” patchwork by creating artworks on large transparent squares. The artworks will respond to the prompt, “Show us what your community looks like.”

During the past decade, the Lightcatcher building has hosted numerous stunning art and cultural exhibitions, as well as community workshops and gatherings. Never has the community been asked to adorn the building with their own art. By playing with and changing one of the central elements of the building, namely the light that floods in the Lightwall during summertime, the community can make the Museum their own.

Individuals and groups can register to decorate 3’ x 3’ clear plastic sheets with designs and imagery that best represents them and their community. The Museum will provide the transparent square sheets for free and once the pieces are completed and returned, they’ll be affixed to the outside of the Museum’s Lightwall for the public to view in the late summer and early fall.

“I’m just excited to open up this huge canvas to the creativity of Bellingham. I can’t wait to see what kind of amazing images our community can put together,” said Museum Educator Drew Whatley.

Community members of all ages in Whatcom County are welcome to design a square—there are more than 250 available to fill. Whatcom Squared is envisioned as a team-based activity, emphasizing community and collaborative efforts. Participants can register online to pick up a sheet or to decorate their squares in the Lightcatcher Courtyard on select dates and following social distancing measures.

Support for this program is provided by the Whatcom Community Foundation’s Project Neighborly grant. To register for a square or for more information visit

Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour

Whistle Stop graphic with image of a trainThe Whatcom Museum is participating in the Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour, organized by the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS). The tour, which will make eight virtual “whistle stops” Aug. 19-26, 2020, is part of a series of virtual events celebrating the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Aug. 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the date that the Nineteenth Amendment was certified.

Each segment will be hosted by a local historical organization, exploring women’s suffrage history in their geographic region, its legacy and ties to national women’s suffrage efforts.

The Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour schedule includes:

Aug. 19 – Spokane—Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
Aug. 20 – Tri-Cities/Walla Walla—Franklin County Historical Society
Aug. 21 – Yakima/Ellensburg—Kittitas County Historical Society
Aug. 22 – Vancouver—Clark County Historical Society
Aug. 23 – Bellingham—Whatcom Museum
Aug. 24 – Seattle—Washington State Women’s Commission
Aug. 25 – Tacoma—Tacoma Historical Society
Aug. 26 – Olympia—Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum

The Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour video series will be released on the @washingtonhistory and @suffrage100wa Facebook pages and uploaded to The Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour is presented in conjunction with Washington State Suffrage Centennial programming (details at through generous legislative support and in partnership with the Washington State Historical Society and the Washington State Women’s Commission’s Votes for Women Centennial Grant.

Special thanks to the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham, the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County, and Linda Allen from October Rose Productions for additional support.

Votes for Women logo
Logo with large W Washington State Historical Society logo

Whatcom Museum Exhibition Conversations Between Collections Highlights Three Masterworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Indian and Contemporary Chair painting

Fritz Scholder, Indian and Contemporary Chair, 1970, Oil on linen, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Judge and Mrs. Oliver Seth, 1983.111 © 1983, Fritz Scholder.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 30, 2020 —The Whatcom Museum is pleased to kick off the first part of 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. “Conversations Between Collections: The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whatcom Museum,” opens this weekend, on Feb. 1, 2020 and shows through Jan. 3, 2021, at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building. This partnership is made possible by the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative, a nationwide program that expands access to outstanding works of American art.

“We are extremely proud to have been selected as one of five Western region museums to partner with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in such an innovative, multi-year project,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “This ‘American West Consortium’ enables us to share iconic American art with the people of our community and region who might not otherwise be able to experience it.”

Two of the masterworks—Fritz Scholder’s “Indian and Contemporary Chair” (1970) and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s “State Names” (2000), will be presented in dialogue with the vibrant stories and art of local Coast Salish People in the Lightcatcher gallery, “People of the Sea and Cedar.” These powerful contemporary paintings by two renowned Native American artists upend traditional colonial narratives and romanticized portrayals of Indigenous Peoples. Scholder, who was one-quarter Luiseño, and Quick-to-See Smith, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, both draw on notions of Native identity in their expressive paintings. Along with historical and contemporary works created by Lummi and Nooksack artists, the selections in this gallery emphasize the important role that art-making has held for Indigenous communities for millennia.

“The Coast of Genoa” (1854), by Hudson River School painter Jasper Francis Cropsey, will be featured in the Lightcatcher first floor gallery alongside landscapes from prominent West Coast and Northwest artists from the Whatcom Museum’s collection including works by Vija Celmins, John Cole, Richard Gilkey, and Paul Horiuchi. With the intent to stimulate discussion between what is familiar and what is foreign in a landscape, visitors will observe and share how elements of each work denote place and, specifically, our place within the Pacific Northwest, and how the landscapes we love are deeply rooted to a sense of self.

“Presenting these special masterworks in dialogue with work by American artists from our collection allows the Whatcom Museum to tell a truly expansive and complex story about what American art can look like,” said Amy Chaloupka, Whatcom Museum Curator of Art. “Even more, it offers an opportunity for communities to share what American art looks like to them.”

Art depicting map of United States

Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, State Names, 2000, oil, collage and mixed media on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Elizabeth Ann Dugan and museum purchase, 2004.28, © 2000, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith

Coast of Genoa painting

Jasper Francis Cropsey; The Coast of Genoa, 1854; oil on canvas; 48 x 72 in. Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

All three outstanding works on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum bring fresh perspectives around investigations of place and identity that emphasize the preservation and celebration of stories. To further highlight the diverse ways people share stories, the Museum will host a Family Activity Day on Sat. March 14 centered on these themes. The Museum will debut the “Story Dome,” a mobile story-recording booth that will give visitors an opportunity to record oral responses to questions inspired by the exhibition, which relate to personal experiences of place, such as a special hike on Mount Baker or rolling out cookie dough in a grandmother’s kitchen.

In May, acclaimed photographer and storyteller Matika Wilbur, from the Tulalip and Swinomish tribes (Coast Salish), will share a talk on her groundbreaking, seven-year quest to visit and photograph all of the 562+ sovereign tribes across the United States. “Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America” shares powerful images and stories that Wilbur has collected over the years from hundreds of tribal nations, ranging from the Inupiaq in Alaska, O’odham in Arizona, and Osage in Oklahoma, to Seminole in Florida, Wampanoag on Cape Cod, and Whatcom County’s Lummi and Nooksack tribes. The imagery and oral histories Wilbur will present reveal the dynamic, multi-dimensional variety of contemporary Native American life. As Wilbur puts it, “By unveiling the true essence of contemporary Indian issues and sharing the beauty of Native cultures and the magnitude of lasting traditions, we can renew the perspective of Indian identity, exposing the tenacity and vitality of Native communities.”

About Art Bridges

Art Bridges is a new foundation dedicated to 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.

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 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 p.m. The Family Interactive Gallery, located in the Lightcatcher, is open Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday noon – 5 p.m. Admission for Museum members is free; $10 general; $8 youth (6-17)/student/senior/ military; $5 children 2 – 5; under 2 free. Visit for more info.


For media inquiries, contact: Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager, 360.778.8936,

The Global Language of Headwear Exhibition at the Whatcom Museum Presents Multicultural Hats and Headdresses

Naga Helmet

Naga Helmet, India, mid 20th century; cane, dyed goat hair, boar tusks; ©2012, Courtesy of Hat Horizons, photograph by Matthew Hillman.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2019; Bellingham, WA—The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., is pleased to announce, “The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality,” on view February 1 through April 26, 2020 at the Lightcatcher building. The show offers the opportunity to learn about and appreciate diverse cultures and their personal, spiritual, and social values throughout the world.

“The Global Language of Headwear” presents 89 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 to the stunning diversity of the world’s cultures. With a few exceptions, the pieces are from the mid-to-late 20th century, and many are still worn today in parts of the world for revelry, ritual, and the rhythms of everyday life. More than utilitarian objects of material culture, each hat is a unique work of art, not merely because of the skill required to make it, but also as a singular expression of creativity and cultural meaning. The profusion of shapes, styles, and materials, as well as the ingenious use of embellishments to decorate the hats, are limited only by imagination.

“The Global Language of Headwear” is organized into five thematic sections: Cultural Identity; Power, Prestige, and Status; Ceremonies and Celebrations; Spiritual Beliefs; and Protection. Hats and headdresses communicate timeless ideas, not only of beauty, but also of what it means to be human. The Museum will also present a variety of headwear from its permanent collection in conjunction with this collection, including Northwest Coast cedar bark hats.

“The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality” was jointly organized by independent curator of ethnographic headwear, Stacey W. Miller, and International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC, a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs, and services to artists, arts institutions, and the public.

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 PM. For more information about our exhibitions and admission visit

For media inquiries, contact: Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager, 360.778.8936,

Themed Trees, Visits with Santa and Holiday Art Activities at the Whatcom Museum’s Yearly Deck the Old City Hall

Deck the Old City Hall Christmas tree FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, November 1, 2019—The Whatcom Museum is excited to offer its sixth-annual Deck the Old City Hall festivities, featuring new weekly art activities to bring creativity to the holiday celebration. Visitors can see more than a dozen themed, decorated holiday trees in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall Wednesdays through Sundays from November 29 to December 29, 2019.

The themed holiday trees will be decorated by community volunteers and Old City Hall will be decorated in garlands and wreaths. In addition to the festive decor, the month-long program will feature visits with Santa and a signature cocktail party to kick-off the holidays. This year’s cocktail party on Fri., Dec. 6 will feature wine, appetizers, and a live performance by the Thomas Harris Sextet.

Visitors of all ages are also invited to visit Old City Hall each Saturday in December for a drop-in holiday activity. Led by a museum educator, supplies will be provided, and participants can make paper ornaments, sock snowmen and New Year’s noise makers.

Admission to Deck the Old City Hall is by donation, including visits with Santa and holiday craft activities. Proceeds help support the Museum’s exhibitions and programs throughout the year. Deck the Old City Hall is supported by the Whatcom Museum Advocates and the Whatcom Museum Foundation Board of Trustees.

SANTA: Sat., Nov. 30 & Sun., Dec. 1, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. Bring your wish list, holiday cheer, and camera. Santa will be checking to see who’s been naughty or nice this year! Photo opportunities are self-serve using individual cameras/phones and admission is by donation.

COCKTAIL PARTY: Celebrate at our signature cocktail party, sponsored by Lori & Scott Clough, on Fri., Dec. 6, 5:30 – 8 p.m. Guests will enjoy tasty appetizers and drinks, dancing, and new this year—live music by the Thomas Harris Sextet! Tickets are $35 and will be available online beginning Nov. 1 at This is a 21 and over event.

HANDMADE HOLIDAY: Join us for Saturday afternoon crafting in December and create unique projects to take home. Make a paper ornament on Dec. 7, a sock snowman on Dec. 14, German paper Scherenschnitte on Dec. 21 and New Year’s noise makers on Dec. 28. All activities are drop-in from noon-4 p.m. and suitable for all ages. Activities and admission to Old City Hall are by donation.


For more information contact:

Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager, 360.778.8936 |

Ed Bereal’s Retrospective Exhibition and Catalogue Examine Racial Inequity, Gun Violence, Corporate Greed and Political Power Structures

Ed Bereal catalogueFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2019; Bellingham, WA—Currently on exhibition at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, “Wanted: Ed Bereal for Disturbing the Peace,” is a solo retrospective featuring the full scope of work by artist Ed Bereal. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue chronicle the artist’s diverse practice through never-before exhibited early drawings, dating from the 1950s and ‘60s, paintings, sculptures, assemblage and radical street theater. On display through January 5, 2020 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, the exhibition is curated by Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art.

The exhibition catalogue, edited by Chaloupka, who also wrote an introductory essay, presents an overview of the artist’s six-decade career. The catalogue features contributions by Malik Gaines, author of “Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left: A History of the Impossible;” Matthew Simms, author of “Robert Irwin: Site Determined;” and Vernon Damani Johnson, professor of political science at Western Washington University.

The trajectory of Bereal’s six-decade career is presented within the exhibition catalogue. Simms focuses on the artist’s early journal sketches and self-portraits. Gaines highlights Bereal’s contributions to guerrilla theater and the Bodacious Buggerrilla troupe and Johnson concentrates on the artist’s politically charged paintings and installations, which examine racial inequity, gun violence, corporate greed and political power structures, and particularly Bereal’s motif of Miss America.

Johnson writes, “Miss America, the fairest damsel in the land, surrounded by the Stars and Stripes, would return again and again and with ever more force and urgency. Miss America: the beauty on whose behalf ‘men’ would go to the ends of the earth and commit wholesale slaughter to defend. Bereal’s Miss America is not beautiful, however. She is a skeleton made of steel, her crown a series of nails driven into her skull. 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.”

“Wanted: Ed Bereal for Disturbing the Peace” is 112 pages, with more than 65 color images and is published by the University of Washington Press. Copies are available for purchase for $24.95 at the Museum Store inside the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. A limited number of copies signed by the artist are also available at the Store.

The exhibition is on display Wednesday through Sunday, noon – 5p.m. at the Lightcatcher building. Learn more at

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:

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

Museum Advocates: Artist Lecture with Ed Bereal, Thursday, October 10, noon – 1p.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 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 |