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The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture


Spokane, Washington may be many things – near nature, near perfect; capitol of the Inland Empire; the smallest city to host a World’s Fair – but a museum mecca it is not. This is unfortunate, because the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is definitely worth a visit.

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (affectionately and henceforth known as the MAC) is situated in the part of town known as Browne’s Addition, which is home to many Victorian mansions and some fascinating history. One of these mansions – the Campbell House – is part of the museum complex, although unfortunately not open for touring due to recent funding shortfalls. The museum itself is built into a hill, which gives it a beautiful and unique layout.


While the public spaces – including the museum store, Cafe Mac, and outdoor amphitheater – are open and bright, the exhibits tend to be a little on the dark side. Despite the low-lighting, the exhibits are all well done.

  • The Spokane Timeline tells the town’s history through artifacts, dioramas, and tales of the people and industries that built the Lilac City.
  • In Iraq, a photography exhibit of Spokane soldiers, closes this Thursday (the 23rd).
  • Quiltscapes is a pattern lovers dream (which I am) and even lets you try your hand at the quilting game through interactives in a variety of different media. Learn about fabric selection, stitching, and how the quilts made their way to the Inland Northwest.
  • Living Legacy is the exhibit that showcases the MAC’s American Indian Collection, which is extensive. In 1992, the MAC acquired the collection from the Museum of Native American Cultures and set about expanding their mission to include American Indian cultures, regional history, and visual arts. The MAC also has an American Indian Cultural Council to ensure that items from the collection are accurately reflect the diverse Plateau cultures represented.

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The MAC’s upcoming exhibits sound even more interesting. Are you a fan of Batman? Then go see Out of this World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television, which opens June 6. Horses on the Plateau explores the role of horses in the region’s history (opens Sept. 26th). An exhibit looking at the works produced by the Spokane Art Center during the Great Depression opens November 15th. Finally, music lovers will enjoy Jumpin’ with the Big Bands on Dec. 19th.

As with most museums, there is more going on than just exhibits, and the MAC is no exception.

  • You can rent or purchase art through the museum’s Art @ Work Gallery.
  • There is a busy calendar of gallery talks, artist’s receptions, teachers workshops, lectures, house tours, and art festivals.
  • Check out exhibit discovery bags for your children or play with them in the Family Discovery Room.
  • The museum offers traveling outreach programs for kids, students, and adults. Topics include The Age of Elegance, The Mapmaker’s Eye, and Time Capsule of Fun.
  • Finally, you can pay a visit to the Research Library and Archives if you feel like unearthing a little history of your own.

The museum is closed Mondays and some holidays, but it’s hours of operation are usually from 11-5 every other day. Seniors and students are $5, adults are $7, and children under 5 are free. Parking is also free. So, if you find yourself in Spokane, make sure you swing by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

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