The Washington State History Museum is in danger, and thank goodness Tacomans are rallying around to save it from state budget cuts. If ever an institution worked hard to make us remember that history is a living part of the present, it’s this one: The “In the Spirit” Native arts festival and Washington state history dioramas, the upcoming mummy exhibit “Wrapped” with current imaging technology, and today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day programs are all great examples.
Admission to the museum was free today, which is why I went as part of my Free Arts Month story, and I took my kids. We got there in time to see the second performance by Seattle theater group Living Voices of “The Right to Dream,” in which a live actor narrated and acted a civil rights movement story to a montage of historic footage and recorded voices for the other parts. Telling the story of invented character Raymond Hollis, who was a mélange of actual people, the dramatization was powerful and moving, following a young black man from growing up in segregated Mississippi to being able to run for his local elections (and be voted for by other African Americans.) A big part of the power was showing, live and on screen, the violence and suffering that tends to be glossed over in most remembrances on this day.
We then pottered around the rest of the museum, which is always fun. The next free day at the museum is this Thursday’s ArtWalk, which always includes a free documentary film at 6 p.m.
The Washington State History Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, and free from 2-8 p.m. on third Thursdays, at 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. 253-272-3500, www.washingtonhistory.org