The Yakima Valley Museum
This Yakima Valley Museum, located in Yakimas beautiful Franklin Park, offers historical exhibits
on the Yakima Valleyits natural history, Plateau cultural objects,
pioneer life, early city life, and the roots and development of the Valleys
fruit industry. The museum has a superb collection of horse-drawn vehicles,
from stagecoach to hearse; an historical exhibit and reconstruction of
the Washington D.C. office of former Yakima resident and environmentalist,
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas;
and a changing schedule of special exhibitions.
The exhibits at the Yakima Valley Museum focus on the natural and cultural history
of the Yakima Valley.
The people of the Yakima Valley have always depended upon the area's natural resources to exist and prosper. The Yakama Indians developed tools and techniques to secure, prepare, and preserve adequate food from the natural bounty of the local environment. Cattlemen who moved into the Yakima Valley in the 1800s used the native grasses to feed their livestock, but also made some of the first attempts to change the natural landscape by installing barbed wire fencing. And settlers arriving from other parts of North America quickly learned how irrigation made modern agriculture possible.
A collection of orchard
equipment and related agricultural objects traces the history of agriculture
in the Valley, from the earliest irrigated gardens planted by the Yakama
Indians to the modern tree fruit and produce industry that has made the
Yakima Valley the "fruitbowl of the nation." Collections of
historic tools, appliances, furniture, and household items document Yakima
Valley's material culture from the mid-19th century to the present.
Many people have made their home in the Yakima Valley. The customs and traditions of all these people, past and present, may be different, but all share the desire and need to have a place to call home. Visitors entering this area are greeted by a post-contact tipi, then enter the Mattoon family cabin. The Mattoons crossed the plains in the 1840s to settle in the Oregon Territory. They left almost everything they owned behind when they moved to the newly tamed land where life was hard. There were new opportunities in the Northwest frontier, but there were no guarantees...just the chance, and the hope, for a better life.
Individuals join together in communities to provide for the well being of all and because some individuals have special skills needed by others. Schools, local governments, police and fire protection agencies, and assorted retail businesses are established. Skilled professionals such as doctors, blacksmiths, and pharmacists become residents because they are able to make a living selling their services. Sports fields, community parks, and hotels are among the places where individuals come together to socialize and relax.
Communities are rarely able to exist in isolation. The Yakama Indians traded with other tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest to obtain things they did not have. After the arrival of white settlers, roads, the railroad, and eventually the airport made it easy for not only people, but also products and ideas developed elsewhere, to make their way into the Yakima Valley.
At the center of these core
exhibits is a celebration of what Yakima
Is, containing the spectacular Neon
Garden, a collection of neon advertising art from Yakima Valley's
past. As the central hub of the Museum it also serves as
the Great Hall program space hosting programs and concerts throughout the year; call the museum or
check the schedule. Exhibits planned for the
surrounding area will highlight the people, sites,
inventions, and images that together form our regions
An authentic reconstruction of the Washington D.C.
office of Yakima native Supreme Court Justice William
O. Douglas interprets the life, accomplishments, and enduring legacy
of this prolific and controversial statesman, environmentalist, and writer.
And throughout the exhibits, many more people and products that made Yakima
famous are brought to life.
The Yakima Valley Museum has an extensive collection
of American Indian art, crafts, and artifacts, focusing especially
on the tribes and bands of the Yakama Nation
and neighboring cultures of the plateau region. The museum's collection
of clothing and costume spans three centuriesa constantly growing
selection of over 10,000 garments and clothing accessories providing an
authentic record of work and leisure clothes, as well as high-style fashion,
ethnic costume, and special event and ritual garments.
All exhibits are filled with objects from the museum
collectionsthe real stuff. Unlike many new museums and interpretive
centers, the Yakima Valley Museum prides itself on object-based exhibits
that contain as many authentic objects as possible. The museum collections
are the vocabulary with which we tell the stories of the Valley's past.
The Time Tunnel provides a glimpse of the Yakima Valley 10,000 to
25 million years ago. This was when our present
local landscape was formed in a drama of lava flows
and great glacial floods. Fossils hidden beneath
our feet help reveal the unique animals which lived
in the Yakima Valley during those years—mastodons,
mammoths, giant camels, tiny horses, huge bison,
and even a giant ground sloth.
In addition to the core museum exhibits, 5,000 square
feet of gallery space is dedicated to changing
exhibitions. Special touring exhibitions, as well as short-term exhibits
supplementing the core exhibits, fill this adaptable gallery space.
The Helen N. Jewet Entrance Gallery features a Miocene Forest exhibit with four upright petrified trees. Visitors may also view what the landsape of Yakima was like 15 million years ago. Small temporary exhibit cases, basalt columns, and a framed view of the outside plantings are also featured in this space.
This children's museum is a hands-on learning center filled with educational
activities and programs for kids of all ages. Interactive displays and constructive play areas provide an opportunity to step
into the exhibits and experience the natural and cultural history of the
Yakima Valley ...and have a great time learning!
The H. M. Gilbert
Homeplace, a late Victorian farmhouse filled with period furnishings,
is only three blocks from the Yakima Valley Museum. This 1898
home of the Gilbert family gives a taste of life on an early Yakima orchard. Tours are currently not available. An exhibit about the Gilbert House is being planned in the Collections area of the museum.
SUNDQUIST RESEARCH LIBRARY
The Sundquist Research
Library and Archives is the Yakima Valleys storehouse for over 40,000 historical
documents, photographs, rare books, and other records. It is open to the researcher as well as the curious visitor. More than 12,000 images from this collection, as well as video and audio segments, are available for vieweing at the online resource Yakima Memory.
MUSEUM SODA FOUNTAIN
The Museum Soda Fountain is a functioning replica of a late 1930s Art Deco soda fountain. Furnished
with salvaged and restored parts of soda fountains which once operated in Yakima, this
piece of history serves ice cream treats and other fountain favorites for visitors to the museum
and Franklin Park.
The Museum Store offers a unique assortment of gifts, souvenirs, toys, cards, and collectibles ...plus
one of the best selections of books on local culture, history, and nature
The Yakima Valley Museum banquet
and conference hall looks out on beautiful Franklin Park. Call for
information on renting this unique space for your next social or business
function. Also available to rent are a more intimate conference room, the spacious Helen N. Jewett Entrance Galler,y and the H.M. Gilbert Homeplace.
The Yakima Valley Museum is a member of the Washington
Museums Association (WMA). To see a directory of Washington Museums, click
PLEASE NOTE that installation of the core exhibits
began in summer of 2002 and will continue for several years. Until the completion
of these exhibits, museum visitors will witness the process of exhibit
research and development first-hand. Kiosks throughout the core galleries
describe future plans and invite visitors to share their opinions, suggestions,
and even their own personal stories and objects to the interpretive process.