Bellingham, WA — The Art Bridges Foundation has awarded the Whatcom Museum an “Access for All” grant, aimed at making it easier for people across the country to experience art. Thanks to the foundation’s generous support and shared vision of making museums accessible and welcoming, the Whatcom Museum will now be free the first Friday of every month, beginning January 5, 2024, with special programming and extended hours until 9 p.m.
The Whatcom Museum is one of only 64 national institutions, from New York City to San Juan, Puerto Rico, receiving a portion of a $40 million effort to attract new and broader audiences to museums. Grant recipients can use the funds for a variety of activities, from waiving admission fees to co-creating programming and outreach opportunities with community organizations.
“We often describe museums as being a ‘home’ for art, but museums should really be a home for people – anyone and everyone – looking to experience something wonderful through art,” said Whatcom Museum Art Curator Amy Chaloupka. “This three-year grant allows us to throw our doors open even wider, welcoming our friends and neighbors to come inside, be comfortable, explore, and make this space your own.”
The museum’s monthly extended hours and free admission will coincide with First Fridays through the Downtown Bellingham Partnership. The Whatcom Museum spans two exhibition spaces – Old City Hall on Prospect Street and the Lightcatcher building on Flora – and both buildings will be open to visitors each First Friday.
“Each space is completely different and offers visitors unique experiences with fine art, Indigenous culture, local PNW history, and a gallery just for children,” added Executive Director Patricia Leach. “We’re so proud to be one of the museums selected by the Art Bridges Foundation to help advance its mission of expanding access to art across the United States, and we’re excited that this grant enables us to be a bigger part of the city’s commitment to downtown revitalization.”
In addition to extended hours and free admission one day per month, the grant will fund bringing local and visiting artists in to create and lead projects for community participation. The Whatcom Museum will share more information soon on its website about upcoming activities and special events for each free Friday.
The Art Bridges Foundation is a national arts nonprofit founded by philanthropist Alice Walton. This week, it announced the launch of “Access for All,” which is providing funding to 64 museums nationwide to increase museum access and foster engagement with local communities. The full list of participating museums can be found on the Art Bridges website.
About the Whatcom Museum
The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, is an American Alliance of Museums-accredited museum and a Smithsonian Affiliate. Notable projects have included the 2019 retrospective exhibition Ed Bereal: WANTED: For Disturbing the Peace, featured in The New York Times, the touring exhibition Katazome Today: Migrations of a Japanese Art, and the co-curated, exhibition Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea, which is now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.
The Whatcom Museum spans three buildings in downtown Bellingham: the Lightcatcher, Old City Hall, and the Syre Education Center. For more information about our exhibitions and admission visit whatcommuseum.org.