The Harbor History Museum, which has been closed since 2008, is reopening at a new waterfront site in downtown Gig Harbor on Sept. 18, 2010, marking the culmination of ten years of planning, fundraising and construction for the $11.6 million project.
The 15,000-square-foot museum is located between Donkey Creek Park and Gig Harbor Bay.
“We’re thrilled to have this beautiful facility as a permanent place to preserve and share Gig Harbor’s unique and diverse history,” said museum executive director Jennifer Kilmer. “The expanded space and added funding have made it possible to offer the kinds of compelling interactive exhibits that engage the viewer and make history come to life.”
Exhibit space at the new museum includes the 2,000-square-foot Annelise and Warder Stokes permanent gallery, which showcases Gig Harbor’s unique historical artifacts and shares the community’s rich heritage with video kiosks, hands-on and computer interactive exhibits, and a small theater.
With ten times the space of the previous location, the museum was able to restore the 1893 one-room Midway Schoolhouse, which reenacts rural classrooms of yesteryear. Adjacent to the schoolhouse, clients can see a legendary sailboat, Thunderbird Hull No. 1, constructed in 1958; and the 65-foot commercial fishing vessel Shenandoah, used to demonstrate and teach traditional maintenance techniques such as caulking.
With 26-foot-high ceilings, the 1,300-square-foot Grand Lobby features a restored 1915 Norwegian rowboat and floor-to-ceiling banners and windows. Also in the lobby is a Narrows Bridge exhibit, featuring twisted pieces of the original bridge, which came to its demise in 1940.
The lobby leads to the Daylight Gallery, highlighting the region’s Native American roots; and Showcase Gallery, a children’s interactive area with such draws as a curved magnetic story wall and a moveable mast and sail. The Daylight Gallery leads to the 1,000-square-foot special exhibits gallery, the permanent gallery and multi-purpose resource room available for special events and meetings.
The new museum is planning regularly scheduled Living History programs during which clients can meet historical characters like commercial fisherman Peter Skansie, mosquito fleet captain Emmet Hunt and teacher Lucy Goodman, among others. Lectures, hands-on workshops and a series of special exhibits are planned.
Harbor History Museum