TACOMA — The Washington State History Museum will reveal three new exhibitions in September and a bevy of virtual and in-museum events this fall.
Each of the exhibits contains its own stories about the magical qualities of place. It is worth a westward trip in Washington, to learn more about what makes “The Evergreen State” an appealing place to live, work, study and visit.
For an entire listing of events and information about the Washington State Historical Society, go online to washingtonhistory.org/exhibitions-events.
“Handstitched Worlds,” “A View From Above” and “360” each invite museum visitors to think in different ways about their surroundings and about how those surroundings are explored, said Mary Mikel Stump, director of exhibitions and programs at the Washington State Historical Society.
- Nearly two years in the making, “360” is the latest renovation in the museum’s Great Hall of Washington History. The interactive gallery is full of insights into how the 360-mile-wide expanse of Washington, with its abundant natural resources has sustained and attracted communities across time. From mountain and prairie to river and sea, relationships to place have drawn people here, while shaping the lives of those who have always called this land home.
A free grand opening for “360” takes place from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16. Gallery tours will be every 15 minutes from 6:30-8 p.m. Exhibitions staff will be stationed throughout the gallery to talk with visitors. Masks are required and 360 gallery capacity will be limited to 50 people at a time. Funding support for the 360 gallery was provided by the state of Washington, with support for the international trade kiosk from the Port of Tacoma.
Admission to the history museum is free from 3-8 p.m., Sept. 16, as it is on the third Thursday of every month.
- On Friday, Sept. 17, the museum opens both “Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts,” a traveling exhibition from the American Folk Art Museum in New York, and “A View from Above,” featuring bird’s-eye views of the region from maps within the WSHS collection. Both exhibitions are on view through Jan. 23, 2022.
“Handstitched Worlds” draws parallels between quilt making and cartography. Quilts and maps are built upon established systems that use color, pattern and symbols to create compositions from a network of interlocked parts. Quilts and maps are infused with history and memory — they record and represent traditions, experiences, relationships, beliefs and future aspirations.
Spanning the 19th-21st centuries, the collection of quilts features a range of materials, motifs, and techniques.
“A View from Above” will feature lavishly illustrated maps drawn in a way that give viewers a sense of looking down at a city, as if they were flying above it.
Popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, “bird’s-eye view” or panoramic maps represented cities and villages across the country. This exhibition features panoramic maps from the Historical Society’s collections, including locations in Washington, a selection of tools used for surveying, mapmaking, and commercial illustration.
The Washington State Historical Society is also rolling out an array of events with local partners this fall.
“We’re launching a Challenging History program series and we look forward to bringing these conversations to our community,” said Camille Perezselsky, the Historical Society’s director of philanthropy.
- The series begins on Oct. 14 with “Crossing Boundaries — Trans History, Then and Now,” presented in partnership with KNKX Public Radio.
“KNKX’s Ed Ronco and Vivian McCall will be in the museum gallery with “Crossing Boundaries” curators Gwen Whiting and Peter Boag. We’ll share their conversation live online. Viewers will get a link when they register. This conversation will be an opportunity to learn more about the history of gender, identity, and changing cultural perceptions.”
- The free University of Washington Tacoma Scholarly Selections series returns to the History Museum in the fall. Visitors can hear from UWT professors and researchers in a relaxed museum setting on free third Thursday evenings. On Oct. 21, professor Riki Thompson presents “Gender Norms, (Dis)Empowerment and the Digital Dating Paradigm,” sharing her original research about online dating for individuals who identify outside of binary gender norms.
- On Nov. 18, professor Orlando Balochi presents “International Research on Environmental Monitoring and Energy Harvesting,” about UWT researchers’ ongoing collaboration with peers at universities in Portugal and Brazil, studying new approaches to harnessing energy in nature to power sensors that can monitor pollution levels and more.
- Family Saturdays also make a comeback at the History Museum, with “Exploring 360” on Oct. 23 from 1-3 p.m., and “Stitching Stories with the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters” on 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Nov. 6.
- The museum will host its annual Model Train Festival. The 25th Model Train Fest will run from Friday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022.
Check the website for updates, in the event that COVID-19 causes a change in course.
A virtual Veterans Day program is planned on Nov. 11 and the in-person History After Hours — Bootleggers’ Ball festivities.
To learn more, go to washingtonhistory.org.