Whether you are a Grays Harbor resident or a visitor, this summer you will be able to embark on a journey of discovery with the Passport to Grays Harbor History. No less than twelve museums are waiting for you in all corners of the County to tell their part in its turbulent history. Pick up your Passport at any Grays Harbor museum for a $2.00 donation. Travel to collect eleven museum stamps to receive a beautiful canvas tote bag

Nancy Cuyle and Emily Airhart are volunteers at the Aberdeen Museum of History, who started them on a quest to form a partnership of all the museums in Grays Harbor. In September of 2016, representatives of the organizations met and formed the Grays Harbor Museum Association. It is an informal group that shares best practices, strengthens communication and implements ideas. The Passport to Grays Harbor History was the first project conceived by the association. A $6,500 grant from the Grays Harbor Community Foundation paid for the design of the passport booklets by Alder Creative and stamps by Grays Harbor Stamp Works.

grays harbor museum association
Nancy Cuyle is the facilitator of the Grays Harbor Museum Association.

Nancy gladly tells stories about each museum:”Many people don’t realize how many museums we have and how different they are. For example, there are so many different ways in which the collections are housed.”

The large main floor of the historic armory has been home to the Aberdeen Museum of History since 1976. Volunteers of the Aberdeen Museum Historical Society have created an entire townscape reflecting aspects of Aberdeen history including a general store, a blacksmith’s shop and a theater.

The Chehalis Valley Historical Society displays its collection in a pretty, little church building on Montesano’s Pioneer Avenue. The Society turned the lack of space into a virtue by creating a quaint ‘grandma’s attic’ display with all the charming keepsakes one would expect to find there: a spinning wheel, a Victrola phonograph and hair wreaths share space with military uniforms and beautiful old photographs.

On entering the unassuming former land sales office of the Wendell-West development company in Ocean Shores, visitors to the Coastal Interpretive Center find themselves transported into wonderfully realistic coastal forest and beach displays. In 1999, the Interpretive Center Association was founded and additions were built to house the growing exhibit.

The building complex of the 1939 historic Westport coastguard building houses the Westport Maritime Museum operated by the Westport-South Beach Historical Society. The displays focus on local maritime and natural history. The Society also oversees the Grays Harbor Lighthouse. Completed in 1898, the lighthouse still functions as a navigation aid using its original Fresnel lens. The Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority brings maritime history to life onboard their tall ships Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington.

The Lake Quinault Museum preserves furniture, clothing and household objects from the surrounding communities in the historic Quinault Post Office. The nearby Museum of the North Beach’s collection has long outgrown a former service station and looks forward to a new building in the shape of an old train station. The collection includes fascinating memorabilia of Moclips’ hey-dey as THE destination at the railroad end with a 325 room hotel.

In Taholah, the Quinault Tribal Museum occupies a small suite in the Fifth Avenue Mall. 25 years ago, curator Leilani Jones Chubby began the collection with a single display case. Today, the showroom contains a large collection of historic and contemporary Quinault baskets, woodcarvings, art and artifacts.

At the other end of the county, the McCleary Museum at Carnell House tells all about the town named after its founder Henry McCleary. The collection, including wonderful photographs from the early years of the McCleary logging camp, is housed in a modest family home typical of Grays Harbor working families.

In contrast, Hoquiam’s Polson Museum is a gorgeous 6,500 square foot manor house, the former home of the Arnold Polson family. The seventeen rooms occupied by exhibits include the original manor kitchen and many of the original household’s belongings. With a focus on logging history, the museum park exhibits heavy logging equipment and a logging camp.

Montesano’s Running Anvil Carriage Museum is the result of a ranch couple’s collecting hobby on steroids. Retired horse ranchers Doug and Janet Rice have filled their ranch buildings with beautifully restored carriages.

June 3 will be the great kick off day for the Passport program. The museums have planned special activities for those who pick up their passports on that day. The Carriage Museum will unveil a fully outfitted Conestoga wagon. Other locations will distribute small gifts. The Quinault Tribal Museum will host their kick off to June 16 and 17, a week later than originally planned.

The owner of this Passport to Grays Harbor History has already collected stamps from several museums.

Wiitamaki Jewelry Store, Steam Donkey Brewing Company, Sucher and Sons Star Wars Shop and Reed Accupuncture and Eastern Medicine, Tinderbox Coffee Roasters, Friends of the McClearyTimberland Library, Our Community Credit Union and the Quinault River Village Internet Cafe have donated coupon incentives for passport holders. If you are a business owner and would like to promote your business while supporting our museums, please contact Nancy Cuyle at ghmuseumassoc@gmail.com.

More information about the museums and their activities will be posted on graysharbormuseum.org, or contact the individual museums.

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