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New Museum Exhibits: Winter/Spring 2023 

See special and limited-time exhibitions throughout the Pacific Northwest 

If the colder weather is getting you down, here’s a suggestion: Why not visit one of the Pacific Northwest’s fascinating museums? Many of our region’s museums and galleries have special shows, events and new exhibits running into June. 

A trip to a museum is a moment of discovery. Even if you return to the same space again and again, you’ll never know what you will see for the first time.  

You still have time to catch some great, temporary exhibitions that were launched this winter. Here are a few notable special exhibits in our region that are worth exploring. Please check ahead in case of program changes.


Artist Vincent Keele and Orange Rising. at the Northwest African American Museum
Artist Vincent Keele and Orange Rising. Photo: Northwest African American Museum

(1) Northwest African American Museum

The Colors of Life

Through June 24

See the colorful and creative abstract art of four Northwest African American artists. The exhibit features the work of Vincent Keele, Shantell Jackson, Lo Mar Metoyer and Yeggy Michael. 

Admission: adult, $10; youth (4-18), $5; children (3 and under), free. Open Wednesday-Saturday.  

The Green Coastline at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington
The Green Coastline at the Museum of Glass. Photo: Ethan Stern


(2) Museum of Glass

Out of the Vault: Soundtracks

Through June 18 

You may have seen their beautiful works of glass; now you can hear the music that inspired the artists. Out of the Vault features the soundtracks that artists listen to while they create during the time-consuming, often tedious process of working in glass. Hear personal playlists of each of the artists in the exhibition, accessible through QR codes and available on Spotify.

On permanent display: 20th and 21st Century glass works. 

Admission: adult, $18; senior/military/college student, $16; student (6-18), 10; child (5 and under), free. Prices can vary due to gallery changes and/or visiting artist residencies. Admission is free from 5-8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Open Wednesday-Sunday.

(3) Washington State History Museum (AAA Discount of 15% on two adult admissions)

Fine Lines: Cartoons from the WSHS Collections

Through June 11

Tickle your funny bone with cartoons and illustrations from the Washington State Historical Society’s collections, many of which have never been shown in a gallery setting. Dating from the early 1900s, the cartoons still are relevant today.

On permanent display: Northwest history artifacts; WW II Japanese Internment gallery; model railroad 

Admission: adult, $14; senior/student/military, $11; child 5 and under, free. Admission is free on the third Thursday of every month. Open Thursday-Sunday. 

Whatcom Museum. Photo by Jack Carver/Whatcom Museum
Whatcom Museum. Photo: Jack Carver/Whatcom Museum


(4) Whatcom Museum, Old City Hall  

There Was a Time: Whimsical Relics & Eclectic Images

Through May 21

Showcases quirky items from the history collection and photo archives that rarely see the light of day. Interpret what these objects tell us about our shared sense of place, the past and ultimately ourselves.  

On permanent display: 19th Century to contemporary artwork; Pacific Northwest history and Indigenous cultures; historical photos. 

Admission: general, $10; youth (6-17)/students/military/seniors, $8; children (2-5), $5; children under 2, free. Open Wednesday-Saturday.  

"Couture" at Yakima Valley Museum is one of many new exhibits coming to Pacific Northwest Museums in 2023.
“Couture” at Yakima Valley Museum. Photo: Carolyn Schactler/


(5) Yakima Valley Museum


Through April 

Showcases the spectacular fashion designs from Carolyn Schactler, a retired professor of apparel design at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Some 20 original creations will be on display, 11 of which stand on motorized platforms and rotate slowly, allowing the visitor to inspect every stitch.

On permanent display: agricultural equipment, apple box labels, curiosities, costumes and more. 

Admission: adults $8, seniors $6; children 6-18, $5; students, $6; families, $18; children 5 and under, free. Open Tuesday-Saturday. 

Oscar Howe seated in front of a selection of his paintings at South Dakota State University
The late Oscar Howe seated in front of a selection of his paintings at South Dakota State University. Photo: Portland Art Museum


( 6) Portland Art Museum

Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe

Through May 14

Introduces new generations to one of the 20th century’s most innovative Native American painters. Oscar Howe (1915–1983) committed his artistic career to the preservation, relevance and ongoing expression of his Yanktonai Dakota culture. 

On permanent display: Art from around the world; graphic art; photography; silver objects

Admission: adults, $25; seniors and college students, $22; children (17 and under) and veterans/active-duty military, free. Open Wednesday-Sunday. 

From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Designers exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. Photo is by McAdoo 2.
From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Design at the Museum of History & Industry. Photo: McAdoo 2

Black History

Several Pacific Northwest museums also launched new exhibitions around February in conjunction with Black History Month; however, you still have time to see the following exhibits:

(7) Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Design

Through April 30  

Celebrates the enduring innovation and impact of Black architects across the United States. This traveling exhibit highlights individual architects and designers from the late 1800s to today. Also, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. on Feb. 15, the museum will host “History Café: Paying Tribute to Seattle’s Black Landmarks and their Namesakes.” Open daily. 

(8) Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle 

Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop

Through Jan. 7, 2024

Examines the evolution of hip-hop through 170 images of the most influential artists.  Also, MoPOP’s permanent collection contains early rap battle fliers, Tupac Shakur manuscripts, Flavor magazines and costumes from Sha-Rock, The Notorious B.I.G and MF DOOM. Open daily except Wednesdays. 

Read our Q&A on the hip-hop exhibit here.

(9) Washington State History Museum, Tacoma

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (permanent free digital exhibition) 

Experience Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic visit to Seattle in 1961 through images, videos and oral histories. Open Thursday-Sunday. 

(10) Buffalo Soldier Museum, Tacoma

See artifacts, documents and images exploring the African American experience and contributions in the U.S. military from 1866-1944. Open Wednesday and Saturday, or by appointment. 

Travel Tip: Some public libraries offer free admission to museums. For example, Tacoma Public Library offers free passes to four local museums and two regional gardens; and the Seattle Public Library offers free passes to participating museums. Check with a library near you.  

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—Compiled by Victor Whitman

Top photo is of Oscar Howe’s “Sioux Woman Grooming.” Photo: Portland Art Museum

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