You don’t have to be an art lover to love the many museum gift shops in Whatcom County—but it helps! Even if art isn’t your thing, everyone loves the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention—and they have a cool gift shop, too.
After you’ve experienced the hair-raising MEGA Zapper (a huge Tesla coil “lightning machine”) and viewed the exhibits of artifacts spanning the history of electricity, the dawn of radio and more, stop by the gift shop for a memento.
The Spark also carries a nice selection of electricity-themed toys to spur the imagination and inner scientist in your favorite little person:
Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, 1312 Bay Street Bellingham, WA 98225 360-738-3886
Hours: Wed-Sun 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Spark Museum on Facebook
Lynden’s Jansen Art Center
Our museum gift shop tour continues in Lynden at the ahhh-mazing Jansen Art Center. I was there to check out the gift gallery, but received a bonus insider’s tour, courtesy of my pal Lindsey McGuirk, the Center’s marketing chick (not sure that’s her actual title). I’ve heard nothing but accolades for this beautiful place, but seeing it exceeded my expectations. The building is beautiful, but what happens inside these walls is what really impresses.
All of the arts—performing, media and visual—are represented and celebrated. Classes and workshops full of eager students fill paint, ceramics, music, dance, jewelry, recording and textile studios. Fine, fiber, ceramic, photographic and metal art fills walls and hangs from ceilings. And there’s a great little museum café called the Firehall Café, a tribute to the building’s former purpose (it also served as city hall, the library, and the jail).
Lest I get too distracted, Lindsey ushered me to the lovely, light-filled gift shop, where I feasted my eyes on a huge variety of work by local and regional artists. Some are full-time artists, others are people—like a local mail carrier—who create art in their spare time.
The best gallery gift shops have something for just about everyone, and the Jansen Gift Gallery is no exception. Wearable items like painted silk scarves and felted hats, practical things like bowls, utensils and serving trays, and pieces to bring beauty to your home, like paintings, sculptures and simple decorative items made from glass, metal, wood, pottery and more. Oh, and the metal and gemstone jewelry is exquisite!
Jansen Art Center is so worth a visit, whether you’re in Lynden antiquing or shopping, or just on its own. Have lunch or an espresso, or if it’s cocktail hour, indulge in a glass of wine or a pint of Bellingham’s Kulshan Brewery craft beer. Grab a friend, head to Lynden and enjoy the arts!
Jansen Art Center, 321 Front Street, Lynden, WA 98264 360-354-3600
Art Center Hours: Sunday and Monday: Closed Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Sunday and Monday: Closed Tuesday – Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Jansen Art Center on Facebook
Whatcom Museum: The Museum Store
Next up, the Whatcom Museum, a landmark in the heart of downtown Bellingham, is located in the Jim Olson-designed Lightcatcher Building. And how this amazing building catches the light!
On the day of my visit, the Museum Store was filled with afternoon light, which played off the fine art and artifacts that occupied every corner. The store’s collection emphasizes Northwest artists, with a variety of offerings from around the world, including telephone wire baskets from Africa.
A treasury of wood, pottery and glass items share space with jewelry, paintings, woven art and hand-painted scarves.
The Whatcom Museum is home to the FIG, or Family Interactive Gallery, where kids from toddlers on up have a blast with art activities like Art Club, Full STEAM Ahead (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) sessions, and special family museum gallery tours. Through February 5, the museum is presenting a migrating birds exhibit at the Syre Center down the street. Kids and adults can learn about winter birds like the snowy owl, trumpeter swan and snow goose, then bring home a book or treasure to commemorate their visit.
The Museum Store also carries kits to make your own sock monkey or volcano, plus supplies for your little artists, like colored pencils and sketch pads. The children’s book section is filled with lovely, colorful and artistic selections for kids of all ages.
The Whatcom Museum is another of Bellingham’s many community treasures, celebrating art and artists from around the world. Rotating exhibits may feature pieces from the museum’s own collection or a traveling exhibit from a far-flung museum. Expertly curated and beautifully displayed, Whatcom Museum exhibits can change the way we look at art, our surroundings and humanity itself.
In addition, the museum presents dozens of programs every month on topics as diverse as comic arts, writer Ella Higginson and Norway’s western fjords. Pique your imagination and travel to a place you’ve never been–just by visiting the Whatcom Museum! And don’t forget to stop by the Museum Store to pick out a little treasure for your home, a friend or a child in your life.
LIGHTCATCHER, 250 Flora St, Bellingham, WA 98225
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, noon-5:00 p.m.
open Thursday until 8:00 p.m.; open Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
The Museum Store
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, noon-5:00 p.m.
Family Interactive Gallery (FIG)
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 10:00 -5:00 p.m.; Sunday noon-5:00 p.m.