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.
Gig Harbor’s history reflects a diversity of heritages. Puyallup, Nisqually, and Squaxin tribes built their homes along the harbors, bays, and shores of Puget Sound for thousands of years, sustained by the area’s rich natural resources. The area known as Gig Harbor was first documented in 1841 by Lieutenant George Sinclair, whose exploration of the harbor deemed it to be “an excellent little bay.” In the latter half of the 19th century, a stream of new settlers from Croatia, Scandinavia, and other European countries began arriving, drawn by the same natural resources that supported the harbor’s first communities. Over 100 years and several generations later, many of these founding families still call the Gig Harbor Peninsula home.
Arts & Artifacts: An Excellent Little Bay celebrates the influences of these groups on our town, exploring the early years of the Gig Harbor peninsula. This new exhibit is featured in Harbor History Museum's Temporary Gallery. It opens on November 11th with a members-only reception, and runs through February 19th. Admission to the exhibit is free with a Harbor History Museum membership, and included in the price of admission for non-members.
To learn more about Arts & Artifacts: An Excellent Little Bay, contact Alphild Dick, Marketing and Events Coordinator, at email@example.com or 253-858-6722 ext. 5.
Collage; Between Fantasy + Reality by Carol Virak
Opening Reception: February 24th, 6:00-8:00pm.
Exhibit runs February 25th - April 16th.
"It is important to me that the artists hand is evident in the painting process….the gestures will lead your eye around the painting, discovering new marks, lines, imprints and details of the whole. I like my work to have the layers of paint/line/color that comes from working the canvas, working the process of painting. The more complicated a painting looks, the more satisfying it is to my eye. I would like the viewer to 'discover' more depth every time one looks at it."
About the Artist
Carol Virak has had a life-long continuing education in Art. Beginning to excel in art in Jr. High school, she received a summer study scholarship to Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and found herself drawing and studying art with mostly adults.
Continuing her education, she received a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, and a Masters of Fine Art degree from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. While raising her 2 children, Carol continued her education at the University of Puget Sound and received her Washington State Teaching Credentials, K-12, with the intention of teaching Art in high school. After substitute teaching for several years, she was awarded a Lifetime Substitute Teaching Credential K-12.
Carol taught Art at Curtis Jr. High School in University Place before accepting the position of Director of Education at the Tacoma Art Museum. Her duties included curating exhibits for the Children’s Gallery, training Docents for school tours, and installing exhibits in the main Gallery.
Carol developed a concern that there wasn’t an artist represented on the Tacoma Arts Commission, and took her views to Tacoma City Councilman Joe Stortini. Carol was then appointed to the Tacoma Arts Commission to give a voice to local artists concerning decisions being made about Art for the city of Tacoma. As an Arts Commissioner Carol was part of the first “1% for Public Art” plan to commission an artist for the new Tacoma Dome.
Carol was commissioned by the Pantages Theatre Board to raise funds for the Theatre restoration through the “Be a Brick for the Pantages” project. Tacoma citizens bought a brick for $25 with their name imprinted on it, which was placed in front of the Theatre. This project earned her a “Time Magazine Person of the Year Award” and a brass plaque on the entry to the newly restored historical Pantages Theatre.
Concern for the lack of exhibition spaces for local artists inspired her to become the owner, curator of the “Contemporary Craft Gallery, Inc.” in the Tacoma Financial center on Broadway. While not exhibiting her own work in the gallery, she exhibited various disciplines of fine art in crafts media and became a champion of local artists needing exhibition space. As the Gallery owner, she curated and commissioned the art for the new offices of Fiduciary Counseling Inc., the financial arm of the Weyerhaeuser family. Monthly exhibits brought recognition to local artists and helped support a newly emerging arts community in Tacoma.
Carol’s interest in helping artists led her to an appointment as a “Fellow” to The National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C. to work with the Challenge III Program. Her job at the Endowment was to research at the Library of Congress all Corporations who donate funds to the Arts, how much they give to the various disciplines (visual, performance, music, theater, etc.) and compile this information for the Director of the Endowment. Her time at the Endowment provided an insight into the funding process for Arts organizations on a national scale.
Carol has continued to champion local artists, having chaired the Harbor History Museum Art Exhibition “SPLASH” for 2 years and serving on the committee for 4 years.
Since retiring, Carol has devoted her lifelong interest in Art to “finding her own voice” as an artist, and maintains a working studio “CV Gallery” at her home. Acrylic painting, pastels, charcoal and collage are her medium choices of expression.
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 programmingwith curriculum designed to meet several Washington State Education Standards.
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-2nd 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 email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth and Family Programming
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.
The Harbor History Museum has a variety of programs for adults in the community, including our well-received Buried History series and our popular Our Town series.
For a peek inside previous programming, please click here.
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.