The Whatcom Museum acknowledges that we gather on the traditional territory of the Lhaq’temish – Lummi People – and the Nuxwsá7aq – Nooksack People – who have lived in the Coast Salish region from time immemorial. The Museum honors our relationship with all of our Coast Salish neighbors and our shared responsibilities to their homeland where we all reside today.
As a cultural center in the community, the Whatcom Museum presents myriad programs that interpret its exhibitions and relate to its mission as a place for gathering and learning about art, nature, and Northwest history. From lectures and performances to workshops, tours, and special series, the programs are designed to connect people and ideas around the changing cultural, natural, and historical landscapes.
Presentations and events related to current exhibitions include slide shows and talks by exhibiting artists, curators, and historians, panel discussions, films, community collaborations, and family programs. See current exhibitions.
Museum and Partner Series
Included below are both Museum-sponsored and Museum-hosted series:
Advocates Programs — The Whatcom Museum Advocates is an advocacy group that supports the Museum. Meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month from September – May at 11:30 AM with a free program at noon that highlights art, local history, or current Museum exhibitions. All meetings are free and open to the public. Get to know new people and support the Museum.
Downtown Art Walk — The Lightcatcher building is FREE from 6 – 10 PM quarterly for Downtown Art Walks! See our events calendar for dates.
North Cascades Audubon Society Programs — The local chapter of the Audubon Society meets the fourth Tuesday of most months, 7-9pm in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall, and features a presentation and slides of current projects, trends, and topics of interest in the bird world. The Audubon also hosts a volunteer in our John M. Edson Hall of Birds at Old City Hall on the fourth Sunday of each month to chat informally about birds of the Pacific Northwest.
Summer camps — The Museum offers camps for children and teens during the summer months. Led by our team of experienced educators who have an eye for safety, we create a fun environment for campers to learn exciting new ideas in art, nature, and Northwest history. Campers make unique works of art or explore STEAM concepts (science, technology, engineering, Art, & Math). For more information visit our camp page.
Summer History Sunset Cruises — Presented weekly beginning in late June and through the first week of September, the History Sunset Cruises are led by local historians Brian Griffin or Doug Starcher. This popular program takes a look at Bellingham’s past, present, and future from the scenic perspective of Bellingham Bay. Visit our History Sunset Cruise page for more info.
Travelogue Series — Sponsored by Bellingham’s Parks and Recreation Department, this popular series features local travelers presenting stories and photographs from around the world. The Travelogue series runs the first and third Thursdays, 7-9pm in the Rotunda of Old City Hall during the fall and winter. Light refreshments served. No need to pre-register, just bring your curiosity.
Whatcom County Historical Society — The Museum hosts the monthly Whatcom County Historical Society programs on the second Thursday of each month, 7:30-9pm in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall, October through April.
Arts for Everyone Access Programs
Low Sensory Sundays — Designed for children ages 12 and younger with autism spectrum and other sensory-processing disorders, Low Sensory Sunday offers a safe, dedicated morning in the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) in the Lightcatcher building. Currently, due to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Museum is putting this program on hold.
This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Eleanor and Henry Jansen Foundation.
Museum in Mind — The Whatcom Museum invites people with early-stage memory loss or dementia and their care partners for a two-part program designed to engage participants with an art-filled experience. Currently, due to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Museum is putting this program on hold.
This one-hour-long program consists of a conversation-based virtual gallery tour of a current exhibition followed by an art-making activity that can be done at home with step-by-step guidance from our museum educator. Participants are asked to use materials commonly found at home for the art activity.
This program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Fund Three Pines Foundation and KBF Canada.
For more information about our access programs contact our education department.
Concerts and Other Public Programs
Throughout the year the Museum offers concerts and seasonal music programs, including two free summer concerts sponsored by the Bellingham Festival of Music. Most concerts take place in the Old City Hall Rotunda Room, which has amazing acoustics and an excellent piano. The Lightcatcher building courtyard and entry hall is also a great performance venue. Both buildings are available for event and concert rental.
FIG & Family
In addition to Community Art Museum Days and child-specific exhibition programs, the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) plays host to a rich variety of classes, activities, and programs designed especially for kids. Visit the FIG pages to learn more. The best way to stay up-to-date on all the fun and games is to subscribe to the FIG eNewsletter.