Science and tradition come together in new History Museum exhibit

TACOMA…Against the tide of history, different perspectives come together in the hope of undoing environmental and cultural damage and providing a balanced and abundant future for generations to come.

That’s the theme of the latest exhibit opening Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. “Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.” is a cross-culturally developed, interactive exhibition that tells the stories of four indigenous communities, giving visitors real-life examples of how traditional knowledge and Western science provide complementary solutions to ecological and health challenges. 

“We’re excited to bring this interactive, entertaining and educational exhibit to Washingtonians,” said Museum Director Jennifer Kilmer. “Visitors of all ages can learn as they gather resources, examine data and take part in the growing movement towards sustainability and reclamation of age-old practices.” 

In partnership with the Slater Museum of Natural History, the exhibit opens with a family-friendly program at noon Saturday. The program features an introduction to scientific illustration for young visitors, a look into the history of artistic representation of animals in the Northwest as well as specimens from the Slater Museum’s collections. Visitors can also examine some of the Slater Museum’s scientific specimens or try their hand at making natural dyes until 4 p.m. 

Funded by the National Science Foundation, “Roots of Wisdom” is specially designed for families and students and has English audio, video and text along with language samplings from several different indigenous communities. The exhibition was developed by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in collaboration with the Indigenous Education Institute, the National Museum of the American Indian, native community elders, educators, and youth. 

The Washington State History Museum, located at 1911 Pacific Ave. in Tacoma, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission for members is always free. Paid admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, students and active duty or retired military with ID, and free for children under 5. Patrons with a Washington Quest card can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family. Admission is free after 2 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month when the museum stays open until 8 p.m..