The Tribe established its first Museum in 1993 through the hard work of dedicated volunteers. With limited funds available for the project, a temporary location for exhibits and storage was devised in unused office space in what was then the Tribal Center. The Tribe’s collection now includes a variety of cultural and historical objects and artifacts; newspapers, maps, and other records; roughly 9,700 baskets; carvings, bone, stone, mats and other woven materials. More than 500 items from the Old Man House site, repatriated from the State of Washington, are yet to be cataloged and displayed due to space limitations. There are also numerous Suquamish items being held at the Burke Museum in order to properly preserve them until the new climate-controlled facility is built.
About the new Suquamish Museum and Arts Center:
The Suquamish Museum and Arts Center will be a 9,000 square foot facility designed to create a visitor-focused immersion experience in past and present Suquamish culture. Designed by the team of Mithun Architects and AldrichPears Associates, exhibit design, the building will feature 3,010 square feet of interior exhibits, a 100-seat theater, a permanent exhibit and a temporary exhibit gallery. Interpretation will begin when visitors arrive at a facility that reflects Suquamish architectural principles and building materials. The lobby will serve as a gathering space from which visitors can move through thematic areas that evoke the spirit of Old Man House, pre-contact and contemporary Suquamish culture, the annual Intertribal Canoe Journey, and voices of the past and present Suquamish people. Support areas will provide adequate space for scholarly research, storage to meet current and future needs, and greatly improved access to Tribal archives.
The intimate auditorium will serve as a venue for traditional performing arts and presentations, and public classes in traditional Suquamish arts and crafts and our language, Lushootseed. The Suquamish Song and Dance Group and visiting singers, dancers and storytellers will have a culturally appropriate place to practice and share these traditional art forms. Learning and participation will continue outdoors, where there will be a replica of a traditional lean-to and fire pit, creating an activity center that can accommodate 50 guests for storytelling, cooking, art demonstrations and classes. The site will feature an Interpretive Trail to lead visitors to a Rain Garden, Ethnobotanical Garden and the tall cedars that create the Forest Room. In keeping with the Tribe’s values, Mithun has designed the project to meet the LEED® Silver standard of sustainability.
Capital Campaign Brochure (PDF, 12.9 MB) - overview of projects with emphasis on Museum.
When complete, the Museum and Arts Center will provide the Suquamish People with a vital resource for instilling strong individual and community cultural identity, ensuring the continuity of the Suquamish as a People and as a Tribe. The region as a whole will benefit because the Museum and Arts Center directly supports societal values, including cultural education, awareness and diversity. For example, regional school children will have a new, state-of-the-art, accessible resource that supports art, culture, and diversity education in their schools. In addition, academic scholars and researchers will be more easily able to study the extensive collection of archives and artifacts, enabling new findings and adding to the body of cultural knowledge.