The John M. Edson Hall of Birds includes an example of what amateur ornithologist Edson’s study would have looked like in the 1930s and ’40s.

Opened March 16, 2017; Ongoing; Old City Hall

This new exhibit in Old City Hall provides a glimpse into the local history and culture of the Victorian Era, when taxidermy flourished and mounted animals often decorated interior spaces. For the Museum, this collection of birds is also important to the building’s history. If it hadn’t been for John M. Edson, Old City Hall might not be standing here today. While city officials were considering demolishing it, Edson saw an opportunity to not only save the building, but also to create a public museum within its walls. He dreamed of having a permanent home for his bird specimen collection, and the museum became the perfect showcase.

Now, more than 75 years later, the Whatcom Museum has taking this important collection and reinterpreted it as an educational experience. Designed in collaboration with the North Cascades Audubon Society, the new exhibit provides opportunities to learn about bird migration, conservation success stories, birds in peril, and the importance of studying bird specimens today. Alongside the interpretive panels and the birds themselves, the Hall of Birds provides a variety of interactive opportunities, including video clips of birds in our local habitats, audio files of Puget Sound-area bird calls, and hands-on activities for children. We look forward to sharing this important collection with visitors for years to come.



March 18 – May 31, 2017, Old City Hall

From the beginning of its 50-year history, Whatcom Community College (WCC) has been recognized as an innovator. Talk to people who worked at the College in the early days (when the college offered classes at a hodgepodge of buildings throughout the county) and you’ll hear some unbelievable stories. But the College, and its graduates, thrived. Today, Whatcom is regarded as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges. This exhibition will engage visitors with “groovy” WCC memorabilia, recorded memories and opportunities for guests to share their own Whatcom stories. Join us as we showcase how WCC helps graduates to transform their lives and our community to thrive. Learn more at


Alfredo Arreguin; La Alameda, 2011; Oil on canvas, 58 x 42 in. Courtesy of the artist.

February 4 – May 28, 2017, Lightcatcher Building

Curated by Patricia Leach, Executive Director

Sponsored by Heritage Bank

Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots is an exhibition that explores the development of Chicana/o art, from its beginnings in Mexican art of the early 1900s, to the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and ’70s, to its relevance today. Images of Resilience reflects how Chicana/o art has been a part of community building, history making, and cultural citizenship for Mexican-Americans and Chicana/os. The exhibition will feature artwork focusing on Mexican art trends in the early twentieth century, as well as artworks that arose from the Chicana/o civil rights movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Post-revolution Mexican art is typified by a shift from European academic styles to what we consider traditional Mexican art today, including illustrations of skeletons, or calaveras.

The exhibition features work from Los Tres Grandes—Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros, and Jose Clemente Orozco, three internationally prominent artists originally hired by the Mexican government in the 1920s to create identifiably Mexican art. This new style emphasized their cultural roots with a respect for non-Spanish traditions and instilled a patriotic pride in the Mexican people. The Chicana/o movement of the ’60s and ’70s grew from a cultural reclamation and struggle for social justice. Drawing on styles created post-revolution, this era of Chicana/o art deals with rural themes—agriculture, religious holidays, folk heritage—and the new urbanized lives that the Mexican-Americans were living, shown through pop culture, cars,  and Hollywood iconography.

PARTY > Members see it first at the member reception! Friday, February 3, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building.

ARTIST LECTURE > Featuring Seattle-based artists Cecilia Concepción Alvarez and Alfredo Arreguín, Saturday, February 4, 2pm at Old City Hall.

DOCENT TOURS > Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 1:30 PM at the Lightcatcher building, beginning February 12, 2017.

FILM SCREENING > The Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival presents Chicano Legacy: 40 Años, Sunday, February 19, 2pm at Old City Hall.

LECTURE > Featuring artist and scholar Amalia Mesa-Bains, Wednesday, March 22, 12:30pm at Old City Hall.




Foot logs provided by nature across fir-bordered trout brook, 1926. Photo by Darius Kinsey, Whatcom Museum #1981.53.10.

Ongoing, Old City Hall

Curated by Jeff Jewell, Photo Archives Historian

Before the development of color film, there was a way to make a color photograph — you painted it by hand! Known as tinting, it’s a meticulous, time-consuming process. The exhibition Kinseys In Color features fifteen examples of this art form by Darius and Tabitha Kinsey, whose half-century in commercial photography is renowned for views of the early Northwest timber industry. Kinseys In Color offers a different aspect of the Kinsey legacy, one focused on scenic views and Tabitha’s talent at hand-tinting prints.



The Museum’s 1892 Old City Hall building features a variety of exhibits that tell the stories of the building’s architecture, the city’s early days, and the waterfront history.

Visit our Maritime History Exhibit at Old City Hall to learn more about Bellingham's waterfront history.

Visit our Maritime History Exhibit at Old City Hall to learn more about Bellingham’s waterfront history.

Get a sense of place, and where we are in this fourth corner of the country, through an audio-visual journey of Old City Hall and the early days of Bellingham. Located on the main level of Old City Hall, in the gallery that was once the first mayor of Bellingham’s office in the late 1890s, you’ll learn a variety of historical facts and trivia.

Walk into the second floor Allsop Gallery for a lesson on Bellingham’s maritime heritage. From early steam ships, to fisheries, to notable schooners plying the shores of Bellingham Bay, you’ll get a waterfront history overview through photographs, artifacts, interactives, and model ships while looking through the gallery windows to the Bay.

Partnering with the North Cascades Audubon Society, this exhibit features our founding collection of more than 500 mounted birds, with interpretation, videos, and hands-on activities highlighting Pacific Northwest flyway zones, migration patterns, habitats, nests, and more.


Ice skating in Broadway Park, December 5, 1909. Photo by J.W. Sandison. Whatcom Museum 3705.

Ice skating in Broadway Park, December 5, 1909. Photo by J.W. Sandison. Whatcom Museum 3705.

Ongoing, Old City Hall

Curated by Jeff Jewell, Photo Archives Historian

Bellingham’s parks have always been a locally loved and widely admired part of the city. This collection from the Whatcom Museum’s Photo Archives combines two previous photo exhibitions with a parks theme. The collection features historical views of Bellingham parks including images of Cornwall, Fairhaven, Whatcom Falls, and Elizabeth parks, among others. It’s a celebration of the community green in glorious black and white.