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The Arts Scene: Road trip reveals great glass, museum

I could tell I had a good road trip when I got back and saw the results on my windshield. I had traveled over to Spokane to attend the Washington Museum Association conference. With over 500 museums in Washington state, this conference trades locations on the east and west sides of the state.

Around 130 representatives from museums converged on the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture for three days of camaraderie. During the breaks, lunches and receptions, you could easily see what a gem this museum is.

Founded in 1916 as the Spokane Historical Society, it operated as the Eastern Washington State Historical Society in numerous locations until finding a home in the A.B. Campbell house, built in 1898 and gifted to the museum in 1925.

Touring the house at night gave it an electric elegance. I had been there before during the day, so this was a treat. It reminded me a bit of “Downton Abbey.”

A permanent museum was built in 1960, with an addition in 1984, and a second building expanded the programming. It opened in 2001 as the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. The museum enjoys visits from 100,000 people annually.

While I was there, the museum was showing the exhibit, “Luminous: Dale Chihuly and the Studio Glass Movement.” The main temporary exhibit space has high ceilings that extend two floors, and was filled with the art of glass.

Surrounding the core exhibition area are smaller galleries with permanent and temporary exhibitions. As a museum professional, I have been lucky enough to tour the storage areas, which are pristine and organized.

If you decide to take a road trip this summer, there are several exhibits coming to the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, including “Giants, Dragons and Unicorns: The World of Mythic Creatures,” which opens Friday. This is a traveling exhibition from New York’s American Museum of Natural History that combines cultural objects, dramatic models, engaging multimedia and interactive games to tell the origin stories behind the legends of mythical creatures from around the world.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.

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