By Erin Jennings
Packed in a quarter-mile stretch in downtown Winslow lies Bainbridge Island’s own Museum Row four museums all within a stone’s throw of each other. These fab four wow visitors with their vast collection of memorabilia, interactive exhibits, jaw-dropping art and fine assortment of two-wheelers. Whether you’re a regular or a museum newbie, here are some things to know when it’s time to get your culture on, Bainbridge-style.
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND ART MUSEUM
It has been open less than a year, and it’s already blown people’s expectations out of the water. With a vast permanent collection and ever-changing temporary exhibits, the museum highlights local artists of amazing caliber. Admission is free, a fact that museum officials aren’t sure all islanders realize. But it really, truly is free.
The museum will host a solo exhibition by Port Hadlock artist David Eisenhour, who captures the wonders of nature in his sculptures. Using a dissecting microscope, Eisenhour studies forms not visible to the human eye and creates sculptures based on what the microscope reveals. Opens March 22.
With each exhibit rotation, there are artist lectures. The museum also boasts an auditorium with the comfiest seats around, making its film series all the more enjoyable.
The Sherry Grover Gallery has a staggering collection of artist’s books. Take time to study these pieces and you’ll be moved to tears and laughter. The George and Davis Lewis Roof Garden is meant to be experienced up close. Go ahead. Open the door and walk out.
Did you know?:
The BIMA Bistro is now open and serves small plates and drinks. When poet Billy Collins visited in November, he wrote in the guest book: “All this gorgeous art in a spectacular space and the best cinnamon toast in the world.”
What keeps the regulars coming back:
Free admission means you can experience the museum for hours at a leisurely pace, or for only a few minutes without feeling like you didn’t get your money’s worth. People often stop in on their way to or from the ferry.
550 Winslow Way East
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND HISTORICAL MUSEUM
It’s fitting that the building housing a museum dedicated to island history is itself an artifact. The old 1908 schoolhouse was built for and originally located in the Island Center neighborhood but moved to the high school campus in the 1930s, where it served as the high school’s music room. (During a remodel, contractors discovered a hidden chalkboard filled with song lyrics written in impeccable cursive. Ask the museum’s docent to point it out). In the early 1970s the building moved to Strawberry Hill Park, where it became the Historical Museum. And 10 years ago, it moved to its current downtown location.
What you’ll discover:
A little bit of everything. Medical instruments used at the Port Blakely Mill more than 100 years ago mingle with the Bainbridge Bowl sign from the 1980s.
Port Blakely Mill on Bainbridge’s south end was once the world’s largest sawmill. A new exhibit will delve into what life was like in this bustling community, where the local hotel could accommodate 250 guests but often had to place cots in the halls to handle overflow. Quite the contrast to the peaceful harbor of today!
Know someone who attended Bainbridge High School? With the museum’s near-complete collection of yearbooks, you can discover your neighbor’s 1987 mullet hairstyle or that your boss was voted “Most Likely to Star in a Soap Opera.”
Walks to the petroglyph on the island’s north end, tours of old mill sites and an annual trip around the island on the Virginia V—a 1921 steamship.
It’s a good day at the museum when:
“Connections are made and people find part of themselves in the museum.” Katy Curtis, outreach coordinator.
215 Ericksen Avenue
Open most days 10 a.m to 4 p.m. It’s even open on Thanksgiving to accommodate visiting relatives who want to get their fill of island history before filling up on turkey.
Adults $4, students and seniors $3, family $10, children under 10 free.
KIDS DISCOVERY MUSEUM (KiDiMu)
From the moment you see the Pirate Tree House, you know you’re in a museum that caters to pint-sized patrons. This carefully designed museum empowers children to explore and learn through hands-on exhibits. According to the KiDiMu executive director, Susie Burdick, the goal of the family-focused museum is to have parents and children play and learn together because play is so valuable to child development.
The Our Town exhibit allows children to practice grown-up responsibilities like checking out at the grocery story or depositing money in the bank. And the Science Wall is more than just a roller coaster for golf balls. It demonstrates momentum and motion, teaching kids about physics.
Adults and children alike create bright designs on the jumbo-sized light wall. It’s like the Lite-Brite of the 1970s, but with oversized pegs and without torn construction paper.
Sensory Sunday is offered on the fourth Sunday of each month when children with sensory challenges can experience KiDiMu during a quieter time. Included with admission are daily themes like Messy Monday and Tuesday Tunes. Check the website for the weekly schedule. Parent Talks are held the second Thursday of the month and are a great resource and time for adult conversation.
KiDiMu’s Fourth Annual Birthday Bash on June 6. It’s a day-long free event that includes activities and games, as well as visits from the Reptile Man and Roberto the Magnificent.