City of Destiny: Tacoma Museum Weekend

Photo by Mahesh Thapa, Courtesy of the Museum of Glass

A cultural hub, historic downtown Tacoma is packed with art and museums. Take a weekend to tour Tacoma’s Museum District to glimpse the past, present and future of the area through its artifacts, art and classy cars.

Kick off your museum weekend with the Washington State History Museum’s Great Hall. Their permanent exhibition takes you through a comprehensive history of the state, beginning with Native American cultures and progressing through industrialization, war and post-war and more. When you’re satisfactorily brushed up on your Washington history, move on to the History Lab, then watch the trains travel the Cascades in the 1,800-square foot, incredibly detailed and working model railroad.

Tacoma is a world center for glass art, and its cone-shaped Museum of Glass is the center of the scene. To reach the museum, head across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot long pedestrian bridge, recognizable across the city by its two glass spires and further decorated by smaller pieces along the inner walls. Chihuly’s work continues inside with the Spotlight on Dale Chihuly ongoing exhibition that displays the museum’s permanent works by the renowned Tacoma native. Learn and watch how glass art is made by attending the museum’s daily glassmaking demonstration in the Hot Shop theater.

A visit to the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), also starts outside its doors. From the Museum of Glass, cross back over the Bridge of Glass, walk past historic Union Station and stop at the outdoor installations at TAM. Snap a photo with the eaglet and bear cub, the bronze “Explorers” made to look like carved wood, beside their raft on your way in. Inside, TAM’s legacy collections span American art, Japanese woodblock prints and European art, overall connecting Northwest roots with international history and culture. Through the spring of 2019, TAM also will be representing Tacoma art icon Dale Chihuly with an exhibition displaying many of the works that Chihuly and his friends have dedicated to TAM over the past 30 years. TAM’s recently opened Benaroya Wing features 353 works of art promised to the museum by Rebecca and Jack Benaroya.

Open seven days a week, Lemay – America’s Car Museum is an outstanding spot for both car and history enthusiasts. Rated as one of the best car museums worldwide, the 165,000-square-foot space has a 250-car collection that represents 100 years of domestic and international car design. Their special exhibits add hundreds more cars into the mix and include: British Invasion; Route 66: Sixties on 66; and Legends of Motorsport: The NASCAR Story.

Check into the Hotel Murano for a very well-rounded weekend of art and culture. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the main museums and has an art collection of its own. The Murano is named for an island off the coast of Venice, Italy, that is regarded as the world’s capital of glass art. The hotel’s glass collection greets you outside with a 75-foot glass plate, “Orizon,” and more art decorates the lobby and every floor. If you don’t have time to stay, still take a tour of the collection for just $5 per person.