On view January 25-May 31, 2020

The Pacific Northwest is a place of rocky beaches and shifting sands, of high winds and raging seas. Its geography is beautiful, but dangerous. Waterways have served as the lifeline for people of coastal regions, a center of commerce but also, at times, a place of great tragedy.

Over two thousand shipwrecks rest at the bottom of Northwest waters. Each one has its own story of stormy weather, fateful catastrophe, or simple human failing. Many of the objects in this exhibition were plucked from the remains of ships. What we know about these wrecks varies and is sometimes dependent on the accounts of people who survived, few of whom traveled in lower class surroundings. In some cases, history has been inferred by rescuers and researchers. Mystery yet remains for many shipwrecks about what happened to a ship or why it went down. We can still learn much from the objects and stories that were recovered.

Shipwrecks still occur today although technological innovation and safety regulations have decreased the number of fatal accidents. Travel by sea is no longer as common but our fascination with treasure and tragedy remains.

Learn about... 

  • The treacherous coast
  • The Mosquito Fleet 
  • Nautical knots
  • The language of flags
  • Shipboard slang
  • Treasures lost to the deep
  • Songs of the sea
  • And more!