The museum offers 7,000 square feet of permanent galleries showcasing the rich, unique heritage of the Gig Harbor Peninsula. Unique artifacts, video kiosks, hands-on exhibits, computer interactives, and a small theater bring Peninsula history to life in our permanent galleries.
Special Exhibition Gallery
“Bomber Boys: Portraits from the Front”
December 8, 2018 - June 2, 2019
Harbor History Museum is pleased to host "Bomber Boys: Portraits from the Front," a traveling exhibition. Featuring a series of striking photographs reproduced from a secret stash of World War II images, ephemera, and a diary from 1945, the exhibit highlights the combat, captains, crew, and camp life of the 445th bomb squadron of the 12th Army Air Corps stationed mainly on Corsica and in Italy.
"This amazing collection was found when my sister and I were cleaning out the hayloft of our horse barn in Gig Harbor, Washington," says Museum Director Stephanie Lile. "Dad never talked much about the war and never seemed to want to, so finding the box of dusty old photos and a diary was a huge surprise." Lile and her four siblings felt the collection was too special not to share. In fact, she has spent the last 10 years researching and cataloging the collection, an adventure that took her both to Italy and Arizona to fly in a historic B-25.
The exhibit features portraits of the "boys" who flew B-25 bombers in the Mediterranean theater. Some of them are known, like Wellnitz and Keith B. Lile-the tail gunner whose collection these images came from, but many are not. One of the curator's hopes in presenting this exhibit is that as the show travels, people will recognize some of the men depicted. Some of the men in the portraits were identified by notes on the original prints and their stories are revealed through an exhibit element called The Game of Fate.
"Bomber Boys: Portraits from the Front" will be on view from December 8, 2018 to June 2, 2019.
"Intimate Forest" Series by Mary McInnis
March 1 - June 2, 2019
What is it about art and the creative process that causes one to spend an entire life pursuing creative outlets of various kinds: drawing, painting, photography, stagecraft, handcrafts, music, even creating a living space for troll dolls and harnesses for toy horses? This has been Mary McInnis' life pursuit.
McInnis' "Intimate Forest" series is a selection of oil paintings that depict scenes of hiking trails and light-filled woods of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. She has been creating these scenes for several years as they initially grew out of her work with soft pastels.
McInnis had an early interest in art and explored various creative outlets including stagecraft, music and choral work, film and photography, as well as drawing and painting through high school and into college, culminating in a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at the University of Washington in 1987.
"Intimate Forest" will be on view in the Harbor History Museum Lobby Gallery from March 1 to June 2, 2019. An Artist Reception will be held at the Museum on Saturday, April 6, 2019 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. during the April Sip & Stroll.
"Gold Creek Trail"
All of our K-12 school programs are fully facilitated experiences led by a team of specially trained staff and volunteers. We work hard to make sure that your students are engaged and enthralled with their venture back in time. While our admission for general public visitors is free--and students are always encouraged to make return visits with their families--our school program fees are necessary to cover the cost of staffing, supplies, and maintaining our unique facilities. Due to fire code, we cannot accommodate classes over 60 students.
Pioneer School Experience
The award-winning Pioneer School Experience, in the restored Midway Schoolhouse and museum galleries, is an opportunity for school groups to step back in time, learn local history, and relive schoolhouse life at the turn of the century. Participants are immersed in four hours of continuous programming with curriculum designed to meet several Washington State Education Standards. In this program, students visit our permanent galleries, special exhibition gallery, and participate in a lesson circa 1901.
Price: $7 per student
Program Available T-F (10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.)
Primary Museum Experience
The Primary Museum Experience is an instructor-led introduction to the museum. Students in grades K-2 learn museum etiquette, visit the restored Midway Schoolhouse, participate in an I Spy activity and enjoy a hands-on tour of the main and maritime galleries.
Price: $5 per student
Program Available: T-F (Available during museum hours; 1.5 hour program)
If you would like more information or to schedule a field trip please fill out our Field Trip Form.
Thank you to the following organizations for support of our School Programs: —————————— Gig Harbor Garden Tour The Baker Foundation The DV and Ida McEachern Foundation ——————————
The 65-foot purse seiner, Shenandoah, was donated to the Museum in 2000. The fishing vessel was owned by Tony Janovich, who donated it to the Museum shortly after his retirement. Currently, we are in the process of restoring the vessel. If you would like to volunteer on the restoration please click here. Also to follow the progress of the restoration click here.
Thanks to the following for support of the Shenandoah Project: —————————— Washington State Heritage Capital Project Fund Pierce County Historic Preservation Fund Port of Tacoma Individual Donors ——————————
The Harbor History Museum houses a vast array of collections relating to the Gig Harbor Peninsula and surrounding communities. The Museum also serves as the official repository for the fallen Tacoma Narrows Bridge nicknamed "Galloping Gertie."
If you are interested in conducting your own research please call 253-858-6722 for information on hours and collection availability or email the research team.