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September 4, 2020

Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum

Whatcom Museum Exhibition "Anatomy of a Collection" Showcases Recent Acquisitions from the Past Decade

To mark ten years since the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building’s construction, the Museum celebrates works of art welcomed into the permanent collection throughout the last decade. The new exhibition, “Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” is curated by Amy Chaloupka, the Museum’s Curator of Art. This exhibition reflects the long-standing relationships with artists, institutions and donors who have helped shape and expand the Museum’s collection through gifts of art. The exhibition will debut Sept. 19 at the Lightcatcher building in Downtown Bellingham when the Museum reopens to the public in phase 2 of Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. 

Whatcom Museum Bellingham (11)

Nearly 70 artworks will be displayed reflecting the Museum’s goals to extend into new areas of collecting, centered around expanding conversations and interests of today’s audiences. Many recent acquisitions and promised gifts are created by under-represented artists and focus on a multiplicity of perspectives, variety of themes and diverse media. 

“As you walk through the space you can begin to see connection points between works that represent several areas of focus for the collection. Many of the artists in the exhibition knew and supported each other, learned from the same mentors or taught at the same institutions,” says Chaloupka. “The common ground across the exhibition is connection and growth through relationships. Artists don’t work and generate ideas in isolated bubbles, and museums don’t operate successfully without the integral relationships built with artists, donors and the larger community. The exhibition reflects all of these interconnected relationships.” 

Several new collection pieces expand existing holdings of significant works by Pacific Northwest artists including Wendell Brazeau, Mary Henry, Clayton James, Mark Tobey and more. Other acquisitions are tied to important solo exhibitions hosted by the Museum that delve deep into an artist’s practice and career, such as Ed Bereal, John Cole, Lesley Dill and John Grade. 

“Anatomy of a Collection” also provides a unique look at the internal workings of museum collecting practices, making this process transparent to the community it serves. The Museum values the idea that the artworks preserved in its buildings are held in public trust and serve as important visual connection points for education, critical analysis, preservation of culture and storytelling. 

“As the Whatcom Museum approaches its 80th year as a museum, we have expanded our capacities in many ways, including increasing collection storage and focus,” Chaloupka states. “Works generally enter the Museum collection through private donors, organizations or through the artists themselves. With funds for acquisitions limited, the generosity of artists and donors and their contributions are essential to maintaining the vibrancy of this community collection for years to come.”

Chaloupka adds that including diverse perspectives and artists in the collection supports the Museum’s mission to stimulate inquiry about our changing cultural, natural and historical landscapes and deepens exhibition and educational programming. 

“Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” will be on exhibit Sept. 19, 2020 – March 7, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St, Bellingham, Washington.

For more information about the Museum’s Covid-19 response and re-opening plans visit

Funding for this exhibition has been provided by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the Museum Advocates and the City of Bellingham. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with additional support provided by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.

        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
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