History Museum’s latest exhibit showcases 125 years of collecting and connecting

Feb. 18, 2016

TACOMA… For a century and a quarter, the Washington State Historical Society has been collecting and preserving some of the most interesting, iconic and irreplaceable pieces of state history. Now, the public is invited to see the artifacts, photographs and ephemera up close during the Society’s newest exhibit, 125 Years of Collecting and Connecting, which opened to the public Thursday, Feb. 18.

“In this, our quasquicentennial year, we really wanted to feature pieces in our collection that tell the stories of Washington State,” said Society Director Jennifer Kilmer. “Collecting and Connecting is about bringing together all the different facets of humanity that have coexisted here in Washington for thousands of years. This exhibit highlights stories from all walks of life in Washington – in both good times and bad – to truly represent the narrative of its residents.”

Kilmer added that the exhibit is also about showcasing the most memorable items that have touched the lives of museum patrons for generations. Some of those artifacts include:

  • A canoe paddle that belonged to Nisqually Chief Leschi.
  • A forensic reconstruction of the mummy, Ankh-Wennefer, who was brought to Tacoma from Luxor, Egypt, by one of Tacoma’s earliest founders.
  • A Washington State flag that was brought to the moon by Apollo 11 astronauts, along with a piece of the moon itself.
  • The golden spurs of Washington’s first territorial governor, Isaac Stevens.
  • A painting by Jacob Lawrence depicting the homestead of George Washington Bush, the first African-American settler in Washington.
  • A brick from Neah Bay, the first permanent Mexican and Spanish settlement in Washington.
  • One of four parachutes demanded by D.B. Cooper during his infamous 1971 hijacking.
  • The death mask of early Society director William Gilstrap.
At 3 p.m. on Feb. 18th, museum staff will give a presentation on their favorite items from the collection, highlighting what makes them so special and telling the stories connected to each piece. Then in March, the exhibit will hold a History Hysteria bracket-style tournament both online and in-person at the museum. Participants can choose their favorite exhibit items and put them head to head to see which comes out on top.

During the summer, the Historical Society will kick off a statewide geocaching contest featuring 125 of its most interesting Heritage Capital Projects around the state, and the year-long celebration will culminate with a blowout birthday bash on Oct. 8, the actual anniversary date of the Society’s incorporation. The Collecting and Connecting exhibit will be on display through Dec. 4.

The Washington State History Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum stays open late on the third Thursday of each month, when admission is free from 2-8 p.m.

Erich R. Ebel, Marketing and Communications Director
Washington State Historical Society
(253) 798-5902