Current Exhibits

Exhibits on Display Through July 17, 2021
  • The Glory of Tacoma: Music in the Northwest
  • A Pioneering Spirit: A Fight for Liberty and Freedom
  • Dreams That Matter

The Glory of Tacoma: Music in the Northwest

CURATOR: Elizabeth Korsmo
DESIGNER: Chris Fiala Erlich
RESEARCHER: Kim Davenport

Tacoma Historical Society's latest exhibit explores the many facets of Tacoma's diverse musical history. Building on research conducted by Kim Davenport for the latest in Tacoma Historical Society's 21 Tales book series, which will be released in conjunction with the exhibit, THS Curator Elizabeth Korsmo has pulled together a broad range of artifacts which shed light on Tacoma history through the lens of music.

Tacoma's musical history is one of perseverance, activism, cooperation, and innovation. The performers, teachers, composers, conductors, and entrepreneurs featured in this exhibit formed an interconnected community which shapes the city to this day. Individual artists assumed multiple roles - teaching, playing, writing, and directing - creating a rich, collaborative environment for amateur and professional musicians alike. We hope that you will find inspiration in their stories.

This exhibit is sponsored by Ted Brown Music. 


A Pioneering Spirit: A Fight for Liberty and Freedom

Explore little-known facts about local history through written biographies and a series of larger-than-life portraits by Tacoma-based artist Dionne Bonner. The oil paintings and biographical information bring to life the journey of a handful of African American pioneers who fought tirelessly for liberty for their community in spite of their situations. For Bonner, these historical accounts encouraged her at a pivotal time in her life when she needed to see examples of strength and agency reflected in her community.


Dreams That Matter

We are pleased to bring back the Dreams That Matter exhibit, which honors people from throughout Tacoma's history who have worked for social justice and civil rights. Developed by previous THS curator Brendan Balaam, the exhibit was first on display in 2017-2018.

As Balaam explained when Dreams That Matter first opened: 

"We all make choices that are later seen as mistakes. Some are accidents, such as the collapse of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 'Galloping Gertie,' just four months after it opened. Yet some are  deeply rooted in racism, such as the forced removal of all of Tacoma’s Chinese residents in 1885, or Tacoma voters rejecting legislation to end housing discrimination in 1964."

"A few have had the courage to speak out against social injustice, including Tacoma’s Mayor Harry P. Cain who protested the World War Two internment of Japanese-American citizens. Some who have spoken out have never been recognized. Their service to our community is only now beginning to be considered necessary and newsworthy. This exhibit was created to honor the unsung people of the Tacoma area who spoke out to defend their dreams and fight for the universal rights of all."

THS President Bill Baarsma added:

"This exhibit is dedicated to former Tacoma mayor Harold Moss, whose life experiences as recounted in his book, Fighting for Dreams That Mattered , have driven us to make this exhibit a reality, as well as to the 245 Tacoma residents who have served on the City’s Human Rights ​Commission over the past 50 years. It is our hope that this exhibit will serve as the beginning of an archive of resource materials on Tacoma’s Civil Rights history. We extend an invitation to our visitors to contribute information or artifacts to this collection, or to let us know of anyone we might contact to help us build this collection. Above all, we want this exhibit to start a conversation about the people and stories we do and do not consider to be a part of Tacoma’s history."

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