Hilary Parker | 11/17/2014 | Insider Blogs |   

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is one part science, one part entertainment

Kids explore the SPARK Museum, Bellingham, WA

I’ve been hearing for months now, “Mom, when are you going to take us to SPARK?”

My children visited the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention last spring with their dad and have been looking forward to a return visit since then.

So we finally ventured out on a blustery November afternoon to Bay Street in downtown Bellingham, which is becoming a hub for arts and dining. Boy watches sound waves at SPARK Museum, Belingham, WA(In fact, we started our day’s adventure around the corner at Rocket Donuts, a 1950’s sci-fi-themed doughnut shop.)

Exhibits at SPARK feature some of the earliest experiments to discover and understand electricity along with all sorts of collections of antique communications equipment, including military radios, phonographs, some of the earliest television sets and telephone switchboards. I was fascinated by an early, circa 1880, stock market ticker, one of Thomas Edison’s many inventions.

The museum features several hands-on opportunities: Take a peek through a stereoscope, experiment with electricity, see sound waves or make music with a Theramin.

Upstairs, kids can get even more hands-on discovery time with a room devoted to them. My kids loved the old-fashioned typewriter, a collection of magnets and simply creating mosaics with little plastic tiles. All of the activities are fairly low-tech, and I marveled at how, with a museum full of gadgets, they were easily amused for an hour with these simple toys. I reluctantly had to pull them away before our parking meter ran out. Girls try out a Theramin at the SPARK Museum, Bellingham, WA

On weekends, visitors to the museum can catch the MegaZapper, one of the largest Tesla coil "lightning machines" in the country. (Museum staff recommends children younger than 5 skip this show – it’s safe, but quite loud.)

The museum staff is full of passionate employees and volunteers who are excited to show off the collections and encourage visitors to interact with the exhibits. They made our visit that much more enjoyable.

While we were there, visitors came in every age range, from grandparents with toddlers, to a college-age couple on a date, to grade-schoolers; and everyone appeared to be having fun.

Now I know why my kids were so insistent that I come see SPARK for myself.

If you go

The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children under 11. For more information, visit sparkmuseum.org/visit/

More rainy-day fun in downtown Bellingham

When the weather finally turns too cold and wet to brave the outdoors, there are plenty of indoor options in the downtown area to amuse (and educate!) the family.


Just around the corner from SPARK on Holly Street, is Mindport. Part art galley, part interactive exhibits, Mindport uniquely merges art and science with exhibits that range from music to mechanics. mindport.org

Whatcom Museum FIG

The FIG, short for Family Interactive Gallery, has activity areas for the tiniest of tots (0-3) to adults who love to play. Kids can play dress up, build things, dance and more at 15 different interactive stations. The FIG studio is the place for creating your own museum-worthy art. whatcommuseum.org/fig-about

For additional venues and ideas visit our Museums and Galleries page.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990

Places to Stay
Getting Here
Read Blogs

Photo Contest
Move Here
Contact Us
Tourism Talk

Industry Resources
Join as a Member
Media Inquiries
Host Groups & Events
About Us
Site by Drozian Webworks
©2024 Visit Bellingham Whatcom County