A guided tour is one of the best ways to get the most out of your museum experience. We offer a variety of tours for adults, teens, school children, and preschoolers. These include weekly public, docent-led tours of current exhibitions in the Lightcatcher galleries, tours of our history exhibits in Old City Hall, and a variety of tours for classrooms and students of all ages. We hope you’ll join us for one of our many tour options!
City of Bellingham Self-Guided Historic Tours
Experience the evolution of downtown Bellingham through historic photographs available as a “Desktop Tour” for your computer. You will see how downtown has changed since the first settlers arrived in 1852. Photos are from the Whatcom Museum’s Photo Archives. To take the Desktop Tour visit www.cob.org/historytours.
Free Public Docent-Led Tours
Looking for insights into contemporary art? Need a review of art appreciation 101? Want to know more about the Lightcatcher’s sustainable design features, or the architecture of Old City Hall? Take a docent-led tour! Docents are gifted tour guides eager to share their knowledge in informal, interactive hour-long tours. This is a terrific way to learn more about art and history while you visit. Docent-led tours last an hour and are included with paid admission; members are always free.
The Museum offers docent-led tours of featured exhibitions. All docent tours meet in the Lightcatcher lobby, last one hour, and are included with admission/free to members. We will begin touring Conversations Between Collections: The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whatcom Museum, on Saturdays, 2:30-3:30pm, and The Global Language of Headwear on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 1:30-2:30pm beginning February 1, 2020.
Old City Hall:
Get an introduction to the architecture and history of the Museum’s iconic 1892 Old City Hall, including a sneak peak at the original city jail in the building’s basement. You’ll also learn about the early days of Bellingham and the founding of the city. Tours are offered every Sunday at 12:30pm. Old City Hall tours meet on the first floor, last one hour, and are included with admission/free to members.
Private Docent-Led History and Art Experience
Tour Old City Hall and the Lightcatcher gallery exhibitions through a private, pre-scheduled tour. Private tours are $15/person for non-members and $5/person for members. Call 360.778.8961 to schedule a private tour.
Private Tours Q & A:
What is included?
You can select one of our Lightcatcher building gallery exhibitions for your private tour. Tour options include Conversations Between Collections, The Global Language of Headwear, or the permanent exhibit, People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the History and Cultures of the Tribes of the Northwest Coast.
Another option is to tour the Museum’s iconic 1892 Old City Hall for an introduction to the architecture and history of the building, including a sneak peak at the original city jail in the basement. You’ll also learn about the early days of Bellingham and the founding of the city.
Is there a discounted rate for student and/or senior private tour groups?
Private tours of the Museum buildings and exhibitions are led by experienced, knowledgeable Museum docents. Private tours must be reserved in advance and may be personalized to meet the interests of your group. The cost is $15.00/person for all ages. It covers the cost of admission to the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building and Old City Hall, including access to all exhibitions, and a 10% discount on purchases made at the Museum Store the day of your tour. Museum Members pay $5. To receive the $5/person rate, we encourage everyone to support our exhibitions and programming by becoming a Museum Member which has many perks, such as free admission all year long, invitations to exhibition openings, and more.
My group is on a tight schedule. What is the cost to reserve a partial private tour?
When reserving a private docent-led tour the group leader is provided with several tour options. A typical tour takes approximately 60 – 75 minutes and includes a guided tour of one of the current exhibitions featured in the Lightcatcher building and a visit to Old City Hall. Private tours scheduled for 60 minutes or less will be accommodated with advance notice for no additional charge.
History Sunset Cruises
Join us aboard San Juan Cruises’ Victoria Star for the Whatcom Museum History Sunset Cruises during the months of June (last week only), July, August, and September (first week only). Visit the History Sunset Cruise page for more info.
The Whatcom Museum is a major resource for teachers and students, providing school presentations to thousands of students annually. We offer interactive tours of both temporary and permanent exhibitions led by staff or trained docents, as well as self-guided tours. While many of our programs target a specific age range or curriculum unit, most programs can be customized for any grade level, from preschool through high school and college. We encourage teachers to preview exhibitions and provide us with input about their education needs. Whatcom Museum education programs are aligned with local school district curriculum and the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements. For more information visit our School Tours page.
Note: To schedule an Early Childhood tour of the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) email the FIG or call 360.778.8974. Please allow at least 2 weeks advance notice.