Cultural Connections: Remote Learning

You can’t visit a museum right now, but Tacoma’s Museum District’s cultural organizations are undaunted by closed doors. They’ve pivoted to offer a bevy of opportunities for cultural enjoyment, education and even community connection during the stay home-stay healthy protocol. If you’re eager to supplement social studies for kids learning at home, learn about art and artists as a family, explore the depths of the Puget Sound, find playtime ideas and even wish upon a car, it’s as easy as linking into the websites of these world-class museums.

Tacoma Art Museum
Having closed our doors in mid-March, TAM increased our mission-focused work in the digital space. TAM at Home provides hands-on art making activities for families related to pieces in TAM’s collection. Additionally, people can view 70% of TAM’s permanent collection through eMuseum. Everyone is invited to spend time looking at collections created by museum curators and create your own digital exhibition with the objects. Deep dives into individual artworks, as well as, posts of community artwork based on TAM’s collection #insipiredbytam can be found on TAM’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels.

Resources can be found at:

Washington State History Museum
Washington State History Museum is encouraging connection and learning through creative remote engagement opportunities for all ages. Washingtonians are invited to share your COVID-19 experiences and contribute digital content for the museum’s collections, documenting this significant historic event in real time. You’re also invited to download the museum’s new free app to remotely explore exhibitions, dive into History Lessons To Go for all grade levels, and try out coordinated activity sheets that can be used hand-in-hand with the app. Interviews with historians and writers are at your fingertips with the Columbia Conversations history podcast, and readers can peruse the COLUMBIA magazine archives on the museum’s website for more fascinating articles about Northwest history. The History At Home page on the museum’s website provides downloadable history coloring pages and curriculum for multiple age groups.

The Historical Society is on the cusp of launching the Washington Stay Home Society, a series of uplifting public programs that bring us together while apart. Participants can follow along to make historic cocktails while learning the history of spirits in Washington, join in a History Lab activity at home, get crafty with a collage-as-storytelling session, and more. Stay tuned for the launch!

Resources can be found at:

Foss Waterway Seaport
Foss Waterway Seaport is offering daily virtual programming for all ages. From preschool Super Seastar classes to up-close and personal in a whale skeleton to live Seaport Stories with local influencers.

Resources can be found at:

Greentrike, home of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, is facilitating a day camp for preschool aged children of first responders, health care professionals, and frontline essential workers. Digitally, Greentrike has created online playful resources for families with young children. This includes video storytimes, sing-alongs, and circletimes that are designed to encourage play and joy for children birth – 8 years old. 

Resources can be found at:

Museum of Glass
While our normal operation is paused, there are still plenty of ways to engage with MOG. Get hands-on with these fun, family-friendly art projects at home.

Resources can be found at:

LeMay – America’s Car Museum
You might not be able to visit your favorite hotrods, but there’s still activities to put a smile on the face of your young auto enthusiast:

·       Drawing Templates for Young Designers, so they can create their own dream ride.

·       Lesson Plans You Can Do in Your Kitchen, including: Crash-Test Cars, Biofuel Basics and Stylish Speed

·       And, Coloring Sheets for Young Car Lovers, including: 1908 Ford Model T, 1960 Chevrolet Corvette, 1966 Ford Mustang, 1966 Volkswagen Beetle

Additionally, you can join us on Facebook or Instagram for periodic contests, games, and curator presentations.

Resources can be found at:

TAM Provides Connection to Art Online

While we are all spending more time at home, Tacoma Art Museum is continuing to provide mission-focused content via the Museum’s website and digital channels during the Museum’s closure. Utilizing TAM’s permanent collection on eMuseum people can view and interact with the collection from their home computers.

“TAM’s eMuseum is a great way to get to know the collection. While it is typical that a museum has on average about 5% of their permanent collection on view at any one time, TAM strives to have close to 10% of our collection incorporated into our current exhibitions,” noted David Setford, Executive Director. “Through generous private and government support, TAM has about 70% of our collection viewable online allowing us to share this wonderful community resource even when we can’t provide access in person.”

In August 2009, Tacoma Art Museum received a Museums for America (MFA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to increase information related to its collection and make it accessible online. A second IMLS grant received in September 2014 supported digitization and new photography of the Museum’s permanent collection. Launched on November 1, 2011, TAM’s eMuseum is a work in progress. New objects, information, and updated photographs are being added to the database regularly. Currently, of the Museum’s 5,000 objects about 3,500 can be seen on eMuseum.  Additionally, there are several curated collections for visitors to enjoy including the following:  In Honor of Women’s History Month, Works by Native American Artists in the Northwest Art Collection, and Artists and the Environment.

 “While we don’t have every art work represented on eMuseum, we hope this is a way people can still be connected through art during this time of international crisis,” said Margaret Bullock, Interim Chief Curator and Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions. Connect with Tacoma Art Museum’s database collection at:

Audubon/RYAN! at Tacoma Art Museum

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Tacoma Art Museum is presenting an exhibition exploring the themes of animals, environmentalism, and conservation, as depicted through the works of renowned naturalist and artist John James Audubon (1785-1851) and Tacoma-based contemporary mixed media artist RYAN! Feddersen, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

The Naturalist & The Trickster: Audubon/RYAN! includes 36 original hand painted lithographs from Audubon’s portfolio of North American viviparous quadrupeds. Like Audubon’s earlier works, these images are beautifully detailed and accurate both anatomically and biologically. In contrast, Feddersen uses a 75-foot long monochrome mural to explore Coyote, a popular trickster character in Native stories, as he navigates the American West, seeing the harrowing effects of industrialism and resource extraction on the environment. The public is being invited to color the mural using crayons cast in the shape of coyote bones during several special events.

Although centuries apart, Audubon and Feddersen draw inspiration from animals and the natural world to create compelling works that urge us to better understand the human impact on the environment. “Juxtaposing these two artists presents a very immersive and thought-provoking experience regarding perceptions of the natural world and relationships between humans and the environment,” said Faith Brower, TAM’s Haub Curator of Western American Art.

“During Audubon’s life his, prints were one of the ways that scientific information from the American West could be shared and studied. His respect and concern for the natural world clearly marks him as one of the forefathers of the modern conservation and environmental movements,” noted Brower. “Feddersen’s engaging storytelling presents a contemporary perspective on the interactions of humans, animals, and the natural world in humorous and compelling ways.”

The Naturalist & The Trickster: Audubon/RYAN! runs through May 10. Contribute your artistry to the mural during the following events:

  • Neighborhood Nights: every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. through May 7
  • Second Saturdays: from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. through May 9
  • Earth Day Celebration: Sunday, April 19, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


For more information:

Tacoma Art Museum

1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

(253) 272-4258


Monet, Renoir and Degas

Seen as artistic radicals in their time, the French Impressionists found their way into premier public and private Northwest art collections impacting American artists for decades. Now on display through January 5, 2020, Tacoma Art Museum premiers a collection of classics to take in. The exhibit, Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Their Circle: French Impressionism and the Northwest, examines how the work of French Impressionists and their immediate precursors made their way into Northwest public and private collections.

“The purpose of this exhibition is deeply connected to the same passion that drove the French Impressionists, to transform the way we see,” said David F. Setford, TAM’s Executive Director and curator of this exhibition. “It does this in two ways. First, it puts rarely seen works from TAM’s European art collection into context and allows for an expanded visitor learning opportunity. In addition, it is also the first time that these Impressionist works from museums and private collections in the Northwest have been seen together. It will provide a lasting resource about French Impressionism and its historical impact for curators and collectors in our region and beyond.”

Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Their Circle: French Impressionism and the Northwest was organized and curated by Tacoma Art Museum, and includes approximately fifty works of art. The exhibition is accompanied by a small publication including essays by Setford and TAM curator Margaret Bullock, as well as an online listing of French Impressionist works currently in Northwest public collections.

The exhibition provides visitors the unique opportunity to enjoy signature works by Gustave Caillebotte, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley among others. Filling out the story, paintings from some of the most important precursors of Impressionism such as Eugène Boudin, Jean- Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, and Johan Barthold Jongkind are included.

“To round off the exhibition, there will be a section of artworks which demonstrate the influence of French Impressionism on Northwestern and American painters—in other words, how East Coast and Northwest artists adapted and interpreted the brushwork and use of light and color in their own work,” notes Margaret Bullock, co-curator of the exhibition.

“We are extremely grateful for the immense generosity of our regional sister museums in collaborating to create this exhibition,” notes Setford. “The treasures of French Impressionism that will be brought together for this exhibition demonstrate the depth and strength of the collections located in the Pacific Northwest.”


For Additional Information

Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Art Museum’s New Wing is in Full Bloom this Spring

If you listen carefully you can almost hear the flowers opening on the life-size glass trees by Debora Moore that recently debuted at the Tacoma Art Museum. Commissioned last January for the opening of the new Benaroya Wing, these majestic art pieces are a fitting representation of the museum’s new and bold expansion embracing the medium of glass.

David Setford, TAM’s executive director, sees the new wing as a natural expression of the museum’s mission focusing on the art and artists of the Northwest. He notes that the museum has a longtime interest in glass. This is evidenced by the museum’s earliest glass exhibition in 1971, precisely when the glass scene was really getting hot.

Seattle glass aficionados Jack and Rebecca Benaroya selected the Tacoma museum to receive their collection of over 300 objects. The collection represents the finest achievements by important artists whose work tells the story of Northwest art and identity. The artwork joins the museum’s already robust glass collection. The Benaroya Collection will allow for a deeper reflection on the history and impact of glass in the region and beyond.

In addition, the collection places Tacoma Art Museum into an elite realm of museums with exceptional collections of studio glass. Tacoma, of course, has a longtime connection to the medium and a reputation as the epicenter for modern glass. The city is the birthplace of internationally revered artist Dale Chihuly, as well as the nationally acclaimed Hilltop Artists program. The Museum of Glass and numerous working hot shops also dot the city. Whether you are entranced by Moore’s glittering trees or inspired by classic Chihuly forms, TAM’s new wing will add another jewel to our region. It is sure to attract attention from across the country and around the world.


For Additional Information

Tacoma Art Museum: Prestigious Portraiture

We have all seen portraits—but wait until you visit “The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today” at Tacoma Art Museum. The exhibit is composed of 43 innovative works from a Smithsonian competition.

With a dazzling variety of media, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, and mixed media, the portraits explore powerful themes and challenge imaginations. The museum exhibit is on view through May 14.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the Smithsonian’s exhibition to TAM and to the region,” said Stephanie Stebich, the now former executive director who was instrumental in bringing the exhibit to Tacoma. “Portraiture is one of TAM’s collecting strengths. Portraits carry meaning that everyone can relate to. These portraits tell stories of national concerns that resonate in Tacoma too.”

Unique stories revealed in the portraits include experiences in family and parenting, fragility of childhood, migration, race and gender, health care, poverty, and at-risk youth. The artists, as one placard states, “reveal the diversity of experiences that connect us.”

Prepare to be impressed by the large-scale works, the unique collections that express an artist’s experience, the diversity in the portraits, and the representations of current national issues. This is a show that inspires thinking on multiple levels. Visitors are invited to vote for their favorite portraits.

First prize in the Smithsonian competition went to Amy Sherald of Baltimore for an oil on canvas titled “Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance).” The artist grew up in Columbus, Georgia, aware of the “appropriate” behavior expected of her as an African American girl. The girl in the portrait is set on a dreamlike turquoise background. Sherald used light gray paint to “omit” skin color so her subject appears both realistic and otherworldly.

The triennial competition for contemporary portraiture and this Outwin 2016 exhibition are possible because of a gift from the late Virginia Outwin Boochever, a Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery volunteer and benefactor. More than 2,500 artists submitted entries in this fourth iteration of the competition.

This is the first time the show has traveled away from the Smithsonian gallery. Tacoma Art Museum is the first stop and only West Coast stop on a national tour. This is your opportunity to see portraits as you have never seen them before.


For more information, including hours and admission:



1701 Pacific Ave

Tacoma, WA 98402

West Coast debut of 30 Americans


The critically acclaimed, nationally traveling exhibition 30 Americans makes its West Coast debut at Tacoma Art Museum this fall. Featuring 45 works drawn from the Rubell Family Collection in Miami—one of the largest private contemporary art collections in the world—30 Americans will be on view from Sept. 24, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017.

The exhibition showcases paintings, photographs, installations, and sculptures by prominent African American artists who have emerged since the 1970s as trailblazers in the contemporary art scene. The works explore identity and the African American experience in the United States. The exhibition invites viewers to consider multiple perspectives and to reflect on the similarities and differences of their own experiences and identities.

“The impact of this inspiring exhibition comes from the powerful works of art produced by major artists who have significantly advanced contemporary art practices in our country for three generations,” says Stephanie Stebich, executive director of TAM. “The stories these works tell are more relevant than ever as we work toward understanding and social change.”

Characterizing TAM as a “safe space for difficult conversations through art,” Stebich adds that the museum will hold open forums and discussions during the run of the exhibition, offering ample opportunity, she says, for community conversations about the role of art, the history of racism, and traumatic current events.

Rock Hushka, TAM’s chief curator, expects that for some viewers, this exhibition will be comforting and exciting; for others it may be provocative or uncomfortable. He said the museum will have gallery prompts that invite visitors to examine their own identities and how it affects their reactions.

What will you see in 30 Americans? Works by seminal figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Carrie Mae Weems will be on view alongside pieces by younger generations of artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas and Kalup Linzy. Woven through many of the works are evocative themes of race and black identity in America, the struggle for civil rights, popular culture and media imagery.

30-americans2The museum’s opening celebration for 30 Americans will be Saturday, Sept. 24, 7-10 p.m. Collectors Don and Mera Rubell will speak about developing the exhibition and the accompanying catalog as well as their collection in general in a Collector Conversation at TAM on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2 p.m. Tickets and information about these events and related programs are available at

Glenn Ligon, America, 2008. Neon sign and paint, ed. of 1 plus AP, 24 × 168 inches. Courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection.

Western Fest at TAM













Saddle Up for Fun at Western Fest, a Free Community Festival at TAM

 Tacoma Art Museum extends a hearty “Howdy y’all!” invitation to Western Fest on Sunday, February 28, 2016, from 10 am to 4 pm. Break out your cowboy hat, Wranglers and boots, because this festive event promises fun for all ages with live performances and hands-on activities. Washington State History Museum and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma will bring activities to Western Fest at TAM as well. Entrance to the event is free or by donation.

Check out the boot-stomping’ highlights, below:

Western Fest – Sunday, February 28 from 10am to 4pm (free or by donation):

    • Artist Demo with Cowboy Fred – Visit with lively local legend Fred Oldfield, who will paint while sharing stories about his life as an artist and cowboy in the Yakima Valley. Several of his paintings are on view in the museum’s Haub Family Galleries, as part of the exhibition Northwest Cowboys in Art. Fred established the Western Heritage and Art Center in Puyallup.
    • Leathercrafting Demo with Sam Cortina – See award-winning leather artist Sam Cortina who is visiting TAM from the Austin, Texas, area. Leathercraft is the practice of making leather into craft objects or works of art, using creative tooling, shaping and coloring techniques. In addition to making beautiful works, Cortina has two goals: first, to share his art with others around the world, and second, to share the techniques that he uses with others to expedite the learning curve.
    • Wood Carving with Al Zantua – Catch the fresh scent of cedar while you watch Tsimshian/Haida artist Al Zantua, whose work is in many private collections and museums. Demonstrations begin at 11 am.
    • Joe Seymour demonstrates Drum Carving and Decoration. Coast Salish artist Joe Seymour (Squaxin Island/Acoma) began his artistic career by carving his first paddle for the 2003 Tribal Journey to Tulalip; he carved his first bentwood box that year, and after the Tulalip journey, he learned how to stretch and make drums. Now a multitalented artist, Seymour works in printmaking, glass, photography, Salish wool weaving, and wood and rawhide drum making.
  • Landscape Sketching on the Atrium. How has the Tacoma western landscape evolved? Check out historic photos of downtown Tacoma, and create your own landscape sketch.


  • From Trails to Rails: Make a Whirligig with the Washington State History Museum. Explore the west through a variety of artifacts, ephemera, and an art activity inspired by historic travel posters from the Northern Pacific Railway. See a bentwood box, masks, Native drum, a leather poke, bee smoker, and more. Make a whirligig and design a railroad travel poster to take home!
  • Children’s Museum of Tacoma Storytelling and an interactive western activity.
  • Faro Card playing. Visitors can try their hand at the card game Faro. This game was more popular than poker in the old west, played in almost every gambling hall from 1825 to 1915.

TAM’s Free Community Festivals are generously supported by the Tacoma Arts Commission. Seasonal support is provided by ArtsFund.

Tacoma Art Museum: making history

Tacoma Art Museum's Making HistoryOn November 15, 2014, Tacoma, Washington, will be abuzz as Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) reaches the culmination of a four-year journey including an expansion and gift of one of the top Western American art collections in the country. The museum’s “Go West” adventure began with a conversation between Director Stephanie Stebich and John Barline, a representative for Erivan and Helga Haub, who donated 295 works from their family’s Western American art collection to TAM. Today, the museum stands transformed with 16,000 dazzling new square feet and four spacious galleries showcasing this internationally recognized collection, most of which has never before been on public view. Join TAM on November 15 for the Go West Grand Opening, and be one of the first to experience all that is new at the museum; doors open at 9:30 am.

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 am on November 15 marks the opening of the doors to the new galleries and the inaugural exhibition, featuring more than 130 works of Western American art. Along with traditional horses and cowboys there are many surprises: dynamic bronze sculptures, alluring landscapes, superb portraits and delightful pop-art takes on the American West. The art and architecture connect the history of the West with today’s Tacoma. Designed by Olson Kundig Architects in Seattle, this is Tom Kundig’s first completed museum design, and was completed on time and on budget by Sellen Construction.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland commented on this significant addition to the city’s robust Museum District and its relationship to economic growth. “The Haub collection and the new expansion of the Tacoma Art Museum exemplify the ongoing revitalization of our downtown core as a destination. TAM has raised our city’s national profile as a leader in the arts.” TAM’s visitation is expected to rise 20% with the expansion, bringing local, regional, and out-of-area visitors to Tacoma’s downtown.

If you were among the hundreds of community members who donated a blanket to Marie Watt’s sculpture, Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek, opening day will be your chance to see the final work. Two tall, curving towers of stacked blankets, cast in bronze and finished in a color Watt calls “Safety Blue,” will be installed at the southern end of the Haub Family Galleries along Pacific Avenue. As you approach the museum on opening day you will also notice the 35-foot-tall entry canopy and red-lined entry doors. On the parking level, Julie Speidel’s red, blue, and silver sculptural installation Kinetic Repose marks a well-lit glass-enclosed entry vestibule. The outdoor sculptures and the architectural design result in a stronger connection between the museum and surrounding environment, supporting TAM’s mission of connecting people through art.


What can you do at the opening day celebrations? First, witness the 10:00 am dedication ceremony with a blessing by the Puyallup Canoe Family; remarks from Stebich, the Haub family, and Congressman Derek Kilmer; and the much-anticipated ribbon-cutting. Foss High School Band will add to the fanfare. Then be among the first to stroll through the brand new Haub Family Galleries. Live music continues throughout the day. Check TAM’s new website for a full schedule of events,