May 03, 2005


Saturday morning’s weather reminded me of being in Forks, WA. Cool and damp. Camping plans were shelved. We headed to the
Washington State History Museum (WSHM) in Tacoma. Not terribly big so it doesn't eat a large chunk of your day. It wasn't crowded, it was easy to access and parking was only $4 for the time we were there. Before we hit the museum we perused the exterior of the Museum of Glass. I'm not a fan of Dale Chihuly's work, but I did enjoy walking across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Lots of color.

The WSHM was fun. There are plenty of interactive exhibits detailing mining, lumbering, farming, Native American history, WW II, fisheries etc. There is a whole
History Lab on the upper floor just for kids. This floor is home to the Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers who are constructing the largest model railroad installation in the state of Washington. If you are really into model railroads, you can access a 360 degree tour from the Museum’s web page here.

Faces from the Land: A Photographic Journey through Native America is an exhibit of portraits of Native American dancers, from several different tribes, donned in traditional dance dress. The traditional dress is elaborate and colorful and highly symbolic and certainly illustrates each tribe's individuality. Each print is accompanied by a personal narrative. But every shot is composed the same way using the same generic backdrop. Were these taken at JC Penny? They all look like pages from a Native American dance dress catalog.

According to the museum information, the "photographer, Ben Marra and his wife, Linda, set out to document powwows and the shared cultural qualities that bind together the many nations of Native America. Powwows are an integral part of Native American life, offering Native Americans the opportunity to gather and celebrate their spiritual connections to their ancestors, the earth, community and traditions through drum, song and dance." But no one is dancing, no one is at a powwow, no one is moving at all. Every shot is taken in a studio. Hardly a spiritual connection to anything. J commented that they looked like powwow prom photos.

The exhibit on Virna Heffer was very good. The process of painting with light was not new when she discovered it but she developed a multi-layered technique using glass plates to create photograms. A photogram is not an actual photograph. No camera, no film. Objects and shapes are arranged on light sensitive paper. I've been searching the internet for images to post but there is not alot of Virna Haffer info out there. The exhibit also featured several traditional photos and some of her cameras.

More photos of Museum trip here.

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