In the Spirit at Washington State History Museum

June 12, 2012

Washington State History Museum Unveils 2012 In the Spirit Exhibit, One of the Largest Native American Arts Showcases in the Northwest

Opening June 21, the annual art exhibit displays a rich blend of cultural heritage and contemporary expression

The seventh annual In the Spirit: Contemporary Northwest Native Arts exhibit debuts Thursday, June 21, with a free opening reception for the artists and guests at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. The exhibit displays artwork from more than two dozen Native American tribes and runs through August 26, 2012, culminating with the In the Spirit: Northwest Native Arts Market & Festival on Saturday, August 11, 2012. The two-month exhibit is curated and juried through a partnership with The Evergreen State College Longhouse Education & Cultural Center, and celebrates the cultural traditions and modern expression of Native artists throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“This annual exhibit has become a rich cultural tradition for our region and, with 14 new exhibitors this year alone, it continues to grow year after year to impact new audiences,” said Jennifer Kilmer, Executive Director of the Washington State Historical Society. “It’s a privilege to be able to recognize the work of so many talented artists in a way that honors their distinctive histories and culture.”

In addition to the new exhibitors, this year’s show also welcomes back a two-time ‘Best in Show’ winner, Jerry Laktonen, and several prior participants. There will be more than 30 pieces this year – one of the largest In the Spirit exhibits yet – that have been created by more than 25 Native American artists. Each artist has a unique vision and aesthetic, and the pieces range from woven capes and skirts, to red cedar carvings, feathered masks and oil paintings.

During the opening night reception, on ‘Free Third Thursday,’ June 21 at 6 p.m., museum-goers are invited to mingle with the artists and other guests, and applaud the artists’ accomplishments as awards are announced. The three-person judging panel, comprised of Native American art experts and artists, will present this year’s winners in four categories: “Best of Show,” “Celebrating the Northwest,” “Celebrating Tradition” and “Celebrating Innovation.” A “People’s Choice” award is voted on by visitors throughout the exhibit and awarded during the Festival on August 11th.

“After seven successful years partnering with the Washington State Historical Society for In the Spirit, the unity of the opening ceremony is still a remarkable event to witness,” said Tina Kuckkahn-Miller, Director, Longhouse Education and Cultural Center at The Evergreen State College. “The evening brings together so many unique and revered artists to celebrate their work and share it with the public, and is a fundamental reason why this exhibit is a continued success.”

Exhibit hours are Monday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., with extended hours and free admission every third Thursday, 2 – 8 p.m. General admission: $9.50 for adults; $7 for seniors; $7 students and military with valid ID; children, age 5 and below, and members are always free. The In the Spirit exhibit and festival are organized by the Washington State Historical Society and The Evergreen State College; made possible in part by The Bamford Foundation, Tacoma Arts Commission, and our media sponsor KUOW.

About the Washington State History Museum

The Washington State History Museum, flagship of the Washington State Historical Society, is located at 1911 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma, just off 1-5. The Washington State History Museum presents exhibits, programs, and events that bring to life the stories of Washington's history. The Washington State Historical Society has been dedicated to collecting, preserving, and vividly presenting Washington's rich and varied history since 1891. For more information, please call 1-888-BE-THERE or visit our Web site,

About The Evergreen State College Longhouse Education & Cultural Center

The "House of Welcome" Longhouse Education and Cultural Center is a public service center at The Evergreen State College that provides a full Native curriculum and artist grant programs. Built in collaboration with Northwest tribes, it is the first building of its kind on a public campus in the United States. The Longhouse is a multi-purpose facility with the mission to promote indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression and economic development. For more information visit