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Whatcom Museum, Bellingham

#4 of 7 in Museums in Bellingham
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The Whatcom Museum (housed in the Old City Hall, Lightcatcher building and Syre Education Center) was originally built in 1892 as the city hall for the former town of New Whatcom, before it was joined with surrounding towns to form Bellingham, Washington. The building was designed in a Late Victorian style by Alfred Lee, a local architect, who used red brick and Chuckanut Sandstone for its construction. The design itself was an almost exact replica of the second Saginaw County Courthouse in Saginaw, Michigan (1884, Destroyed 1971), Designed by Fred W. Hollister.
At the time of construction, the building was situated on a bluff above Bellingham Bay. However, over the years, significant amounts of the waterfront were filled in to make more land. Currently, the building sits above Maritime Heritage Park.

The building served as city hall until 1936, and became part of the museum in 1941. In 1962, the fire damaged the building, but efforts from the community raised money to restore the building.
In 2009, The Whatcom Museum opened a location in the newly designed Lightcatcher building. The Lightcatcher, designed by Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects, is named for its 37 feet high and 180 feet long translucent wall, which facilitates a number of energy saving strategies.

Currently, the Whatcom Museum is a three building campus that includes Old City Hall, Syre Education Center and Lightcatcher which encloses the Family Interactive Gallery (FIG).

To visit Whatcom Museum and other attractions in Bellingham, use our Bellingham online sightseeing planner.
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Whatcom Museum reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
44 reviews
  • This place can give you many new experiences as we have been there several time as the show they have is quite interesting and sometimes quite beautiful It does change.  more »
  • We were going to hike but it was really raining. We decided to tour the museum. We were glad that we did. The Native American exhibits are very informative. We had a 5 yr old with us and he...  more »
  • It's been awhile since I've been there but I remember being impressed by the history of the area and the wildlife display. A good museum. Worth a look.
  • A beautiful & well preserved historic building in the cozy cute town of Bellingham. The Whatcom Museum (Old City Hall) is a local gem and worth an afternoon of exploring. Free parking is limited but there's ample street parking. Wonderful chamber music concert venue for the Bellingham Chamber Music Society!

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