Tacoma’s Museum District Reopening Breathes Life into Downtown

Just over a month after beginning a phased reopening, Tacoma’s Museum District, made up of the Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, LeMay – America’s Car Museum, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Foss Waterway Seaport, and Museum of Glass, is supporting the resurgence of community connection. A host of new events, exhibitions, and activities are on the horizon as people return to the downtown area. Amid the activity, all the museums continue to follow COVID-19 operating protocols to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

We’ve seen such happiness as guests have returned to the museum. It is a great feeling to provide a safe space for our community to engage with art again.

Debbie Lenk, executive director, Museum of Glass

Along the waterway, Museum of Glass has extended its popular outside tours of the Thea Foss Waterway through the end of May. Inside the museum, Family Day activities have resumed on the second Saturday of each month and in the Hot Shop visitors will find the team focusing on technical demonstrations each Saturday. In addition to new exhibitions – Counterparts: Glass + Art Elements and René Lalique: Art Deco Gems from the Steven and Roslyn Shulman Collection – Museum of Glass is also celebrating the final months of Transparency: An LGBTQ Glass Art Exhibition, which will close in August 2021.

Foss Waterway Seaport is preparing to reopen on June 3. For their reopening weekend, the Seaport will host a night paddle event, surplus sale, and Tacoma Ocean Fest on June 6. This year’s event will be a hybrid of in-person and livestreamed happenings.

At the Tacoma Art Museum, new exhibitions on view explore fresh ways of looking at the Museum’s collection. View South Sound Selects: Community Choices from the Collection, which broadens the curatorial voice by highlighting works from the museum’s collection as chosen by twenty-seven community members. Or take a deep dive into the art of painting and the core components that create a finished image in TAM’s newest exhibition, Painting Deconstructed: Selections from the Northwest Collection. TAM is also featuring selections in the Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Wing as part of Metaphor into Form: Art in the Era of the Pilchuck Glass School, including a new installation in the project space, Glass as Canvas.  

Washington State History Museum,
Photography by Over Tacoma

The Washington State History Museum is continuing its popular virtual programming, including COOPER: History After Hours with the Museum of Flight, and two free programs: Never again: The story of the Japanese American incarceration, and Scholarly Selections – Day of Remembrance. Museum visitors can explore the history of train travel with Just The Ticket, on view through August 22. On May 29, WSHM will debut the original exhibition Crossing Boundaries: Portraits of a Transgender West, highlighting historical narratives of transgender people in the West. Looking ahead, two new galleries will open in the Great Hall of Washington History — Remembrance: The Legacy of Executive Order 9066 in Washington (June 17) and 360 (summer 2021), as well as the annual IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition opening on July 15.

COVID-19 safety measures are in place across the district, including social distancing, required face coverings, and occupancy limits connected to Pierce County’s current status in Phase 2 of Healthy Washington – A Roadmap to Recovery. Some amenities at the museums remain closed per state and department of health protocols. Days and hours of operation for each museum follow.

Washington State History Museum
Open: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm; and every Third Thursday, 10am–8pm with free admission from 3–8pm.
WashingtonHistory.org

Museum of Glass
Open: Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm
MuseumOfGlass.org

America’s Car Museum
Open: Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm, last entry at 4:30pm
AmericasCarMuseum.org

Children’s Museum of Tacoma
Open: Limited daily sessions by reservation only. For more information about hours and how to make a reservation, see playtacoma.org.
PlayTacoma.org

Tacoma Art Museum
Open: Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm
TacomaArtMuseum.org

Foss Waterway Seaport
Re-opens: Thursday, June 3, 2021
Thursday–Sunday, 1am–4pm, and every Third Thursday 10am–4pm with free admission from 4–8pm.
FossWaterwaySeaport.org

About The Tacoma Museum District
The Tacoma Museum District is one of the jewels of the South Sound! Visit six premier museums within walking distance to each other (or catch the convenient and free Link light rail). Each museum shares a different aspect of Pacific Northwest arts and culture and they work together to share the best of Tacoma as a destination.

Where are the museums? Along Pacific Avenue you’ll find the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the Tacoma Art Museum, and just past Historic Union station, the Washington State History Museum. From the History Museum, take the pedestrian Bridge of Glass right to the Museum of Glass. Stroll along Thea Foss Waterway to reach the Foss Waterway Seaport. Catch the Link on Pacific Ave for a quick ride over toward America’s Car Museum. See each museum’s website for address and location details.

Whatcom Museum Offers Free Admission for MOG Members to View Glass Exhibition

Members of Museum of Glass can visit the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, to explore their newest exhibition, Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest, for free! All members need to do is present their current Museum of Glass membership card at admissions, located in the Lightcatcher building or Old City Hall. This opportunity is available through October 10, 2021. Along with free admission, MOG members can receive 10% off purchases at the Museum Store.

Fluid Formations, which draws from MOG’s permanent collection, celebrates the innovation and striking range of processes and ideas that could only come from decades of a shared passion for the material of glass. From the establishment of Pilchuck Glass School in 1971 to today, the Northwest’s glass community has expanded significantly and has created a rich legacy unique to our region.  Fluid Formations features the art of fifty-seven contemporary artists working in glass from the Pacific Northwest, the epicenter of glass.

Front Entrance to the Lightcather Building
Photo by: C9 Photography

The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, and activities about art, nature, and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is in the heart of Bellingham’s downtown Arts District. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., are open at 50% capacity due to Covid-19 safety restrictions Thursdays–Sundays, 12–5pm. For more information about the Museum’s exhibitions and admission visit, whatcommuseum.org.

MOG Executive Director Discusses The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations with U.S. House Committee

Museum of Glass was honored to be invited to share our experiences dealing with the impact of COVID-19 with the U.S. House Committee of Appropriations on March 25, 2021. MOG Executive Director, Debbie Lenk, was part of a panel discussion regarding “The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations.

We never imagined a world where Museum of Glass would operate for only four months in 2020. It was the first time in 20 years our Hot Shop and programming went idle. During uncertain and dark times, people look to art for healing and inspiration. It was, and remains, a heavy burden for MOG to not be able to serve our community in the same manner we have for two decades.

Lenk voiced how in-person events and visiting artists, which came to a quick halt this past year, play a massive role in the visitors’ experience at the Cone. She added that it is a huge priority this spring to bring back these programs, including Hot Shop Heroes, a glassmaking program for soldiers and veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other depressive disorders.

Our communities need art more than ever. Throughout the past 12 months we have focused squarely on providing what programs we can in order to give people hope, and we have worked to ensure our staff have jobs when MOG can reopen.

Debbie Lenk, Executive Director

You can watch the full panel discussion at: The Effects of COVID-19 on Arts and Humanities Organizations

A transcript is also available at: Ms. Deborah Lenk Testimony

Hindsight is 1921: Reflections on Lalique Near the End of the Pandemic

Written by Katie Buckingham, Curator 

Now that I’m a year into a pandemic, I completely understand why the Roaring Twenties followed the Spanish Flu. I don’t know about you, but after 356 days (and counting) of being marooned in a box on Zoom, I could really use a bigger place. And a fun party. And some new things. 

MOG’s newest exhibition, René Lalique: Art Deco Gems from the Steven and Roslyn Shulman Collection, showcases the pinnacle of Lalique’s career in glass. And, after the last 12 months, I appreciate it from a new perspective. Of course the survivors of World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic felt the desire to reinvent themselves and live in excess!  

René Lalique (French, 1860–1945) Deux cavaliers (Two Horsemen) Table Centerpiece, 1920 Mold-pressed glass; bronze base 10 × 36 1/4 × 4 in. Promised gift of Steven and Roslyn Shulman Photo by Duncan Price

Their drive to be reborn led to a decade of consumption and revelry that became known as the Roaring Twenties. Lalique’s Art Deco designs are both art and artifact, representing the era’s luxurious aesthetics and the era’s new technologies and social changes.  

The Deux cavaliers (Two Horsemen) table centerpiece is a dramatic composition of two horsemen, poised mid-duel. By the 1920s, many homes had electric lighting. Lalique took advantage of this new technology, designing statement lighting fixtures like this, with enough presence to replace the now-old fashioned candelabras and chandeliers.  

René Lalique (French, 1860–1945) Roscae figurines (Rosette Figurines) Perfume Bottle for Maison Lalique Mold-blown and mold-pressed glass, enamel 4 3/8 × 4 3/8 × 3/4 in. Promised gift of Steven and Roslyn Shulman Photo by Duncan Price

Partly as a result of the suffrage movement, women took center stage in the 1920s. Known as Flappers, these women pushed economic, political, and social boundaries, and their independence sent waves through the design world. Lalique created bottles, like Roscae figurines (Rosette Figurines), with a sculptural eye. They were talismans, representing the sophistication and vibrant independence of their owners.  

Standing in the exhibition, I can’t help but hope we are at the beginning of another Roaring Twenties. I wonder if people from 1920 dreamed of the “after pandemic” with the same visions of celebratory excess that I hope will follow this immensely trying year. I’d like to think so.  

Tacoma’s World-Class Museums are Re-Opening with New Exhibitions

Written and Released By The Tacoma Museum District

Tacoma, WA – After a year (more or less) of closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tacoma’s Museum District is springing back to life with a bevy of new exhibitions and experiences for visitors. Each museum is implementing best practices for public health, including social distancing, one-way gallery paths, increased cleaning throughout the day, bolstered air filtration systems, and occupancy limits per the Office of the Governor, among other measures. Visitors will be required to wear masks or face coverings. With these protocols in place, visitors can feel welcome to dive into the culture again.

“We are really happy to be at the point of safely reopening and welcoming our community again,” said Jennifer Kilmer, Washington State Historical Society’s director. “Stimulating exhibitions, cultural engagement and education are critical nutrients to feed resilience as folks begin to recover from the challenges of the past year. We know people are eager to get out and enjoy new spaces and opportunities to learn and connect, and the museums are ready to fill those needs.”

Some of the museums will initially operate with reduced schedules. Some will also continue to offer online programs and all offer online educational resources. Check each museum’s website for hours and admissions information before you go, as each organization’s situation can change.

Brent Mason, executive director at the Foss Waterway Seaport, shared similar thoughts about the role of museums in the community right now. “Museums play a critical role in restoring our sense of progress and community by bringing us together virtually and physically to learn about art, culture, history and the natural world around us, about one another and our diverse cultures and backgrounds, through experiences that are transporting, enriching, and, especially important at this time, joyful.”

With spring around the corner it’s a great time to revitalize your mind and spark your imagination by visiting these six amazing museums. See what’s new and reconnect with culture and community. Planned opening dates, hours, and websites for the museums are listed below:

Washington State History Museum

Opens Friday, April 2, 2021.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM; and every Third Thursday, 10:00 AM-8:00 PM with free admission from 3:00-8:00 PM.

Website: www.WashingtonHistory.org

Reopening Highlight: Just the Ticket! Hop aboard for a journey through the history of railroad passenger travel in Washington. Learn the how, why, when and where passengers rode the rails through the Evergreen State. And don’t miss the state’s largest public model railroad display while you’re visiting!

Museum of Glass

Opens Friday, April 2 for a Members-Only Day, and open to all starting Saturday, April 3, 2021.

Hours: Friday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM

Website: www.MuseumOfGlass.org

Reopening Highlight: Museum of Glass is excited to welcome the Hot Shop Team back to the Cone, and reopen with two new exhibitions, Counterparts: Glass + Art Elements and René Lalique: Art Deco Gems from the Steven and Roslyn Shulman Collection. Details on Family Days, select educational opportunities, and the Museum Store will be available on the MOG website.

America’s Car Museum

Opens Friday, April 2, 2021

Hours: Friday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, last entry at 4:30PM

Website: www.AmericasCarMuseum.org

Reopening highlight: Let ’Zoom’ have a different meaning as you leave the office behind and  fill up on LeMay – America’s Car Museum’s high octane exhibits! Explore everything from the supercars of Steve Saleen to the 1918 Liberty Cadillac 1257X, a special car documented in the Library of Congress and featured in the National Register for Historic Vehicles! Fuel up your family fun and drive over to ACM for an adventure we’re sure will have you pushing the accelerator to keep going!

Children’s Museum of Tacoma

Opens Monday, April 12, 2021

Hours: Limited daily sessions by reservation only. For more information about hours and how to make a reservation, see https://playtacoma.org.

Website: https://playtacoma.org

Reopening Highlight: The downtown Children’s Museum of Tacoma will reopen with a fantastical new climber that allows for big body movement and inspires imaginative play! Also announcing the grand opening of the Children’s Museum at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Saturday, April 24, 2021.

Tacoma Art Museum

Opens Friday, April 16, 2021

Hours: Friday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM

Website: www.TacomaArtMuseum.org

Reopening Highlight: Painting Deconstructed: Selections from the Northwest CollectionTake a deep dive into the art of painting by focusing on core components that come together to create a finished image.

Foss Waterway Seaport

Opens Thursday, June 3, 2021

Hours: Thursday – Sunday, 10:00 AM–4:00 PM, and every Third Thursday 10:00 AM-4:00 PM with free admission from 4:00-8:00 PM.

Website: https://fosswaterwayseaport.org

Reopening Highlight: Private tours available of our brand new Heritage Boat Shop, plus explore our newly refreshed Rails to Sails exhibit.

# # #

Image credit: Photo by Michael Simmons. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass provides a stunning walkway linking the museums on Pacific Avenue with the museums along Thea Foss Waterway. Access the bridge on the west side at the plaza outside of the Washington State History Museum, and on the east side atop the graceful staircase that wraps around the landmark cone at the Museum of Glass.

About The Tacoma Museum District
The Tacoma Museum District is one of the jewels of the South Sound! Visit six premier museums within walking distance to each other (or catch the convenient and free Link light rail). Each museum shares a different aspect of Pacific Northwest arts and culture and they work together to share the best of Tacoma as a destination.

Where are the museums? Along Pacific Avenue you’ll find the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the Tacoma Art Museum, and just past Historic Union station, the Washington State History Museum. From the History Museum, take the pedestrian Bridge of Glass right to the Museum of Glass. Stroll along Thea Foss Waterway to reach the Foss Waterway Seaport. Catch the Link on Pacific Ave for a quick ride over toward America’s Car Museum. See each museum’s website for address and location details.