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The Colors of Life


The Colors of Life

Los Colores de la Vida

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The Colors of Life


The Colors of Life

Los Colores de la Vida

New Latino folk art exhibit now open!

The Museum's exciting special exhibit, “The Colors of Life” (in Spanish, Los Colores de la Vida), showcases a number of brilliantly colored contemporary folk art pieces acquired from artists and craftspeople working in Latin American countries. Guest curated by local artist, Diana Schmidt, the work in this exhibit highlights the fine craftsmanship produced by artists and artisans from this region.

On display is the expert work of several well-known individuals and artisan families that produce clay muñecas (figurines), carved wooden animalitos (little animals), costume and display textiles, retablos (sacred images), masks and more. Artists of note include Josefina Aguilar, Angelica Vasquez Cruz and Agustín Cruz Prudencio, among others.

One medium showcased in the exhibit is Oaxacan wood carving. The tradition of animal carving in the Oaxacan Valley dates back centuries to when the Zapotecs created religious totems and ceremonial masks during the pre-Hispanic period. After the Spanish conquest, carvers started to incorporate Christian imagery such as angels and crosses into carvings. Figures and masks as representations of Biblical passages also became common. The wooden animalitos are often hand-carved from the naturally twisted and curved branches and roots of the female copal tree, native to southwestern Mexico. This preferred carving medium is lightweight and easily worked with machetes, knives, and chisels. After carving, the wood is dried and sanded to a soft, smooth finish. The pieces are then hand-painted in intricate patterns and bright contrasting colors that make the completed sculptures vibrate with life.

The art on display in The Colors of Life is on loan to the Museum from the private collections of Diana and Chris Schmidt, Katherine Wildermuth and John Jamison, and Lou Ann and David Casper. The exhibit will be open until 2018.

Funding for this exhibit has been provided by the Wildhorse Foundation, Clara & Art Bald Trust, K.B. Wells Charitable Trust, Bill and Bonnie Szuch, Blue Mountain Community Foundation, and Leonard and Shirley Isaacs.

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World Wars


World Wars

The Walla Walla Story

World Wars


World Wars

The Walla Walla Story

Visit Fort Walla Walla Museum to discover a rich array of wartime artifacts and stories focused on the effects the two World Wars had on the citizens of the Walla Walla Valley.

Stories, artifacts and photos will connect you to the local people who served in Europe and in the Pacific, and who endured the challenges of wartime at home.

See hundreds of artifacts from local veterans that include uniforms, a gas mask, cannons, combat weapons, battle flags, and much more. Learn about the Women’s Army Corps, German prisoners at the Fairgrounds, and the Walla Walla Army Airbase, and McCaw Army Hospital.

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Agriculture


Agriculture Exhibits

Agriculture


Agriculture Exhibits

Fort Walla Walla Museum houses one of the nation’s largest collections of horse-era agricultural equipment, circa 1859-1930s. The collection illustrates the early days of farming in Walla Walla, a primary agriculture-producing region where wheat dominates and vegetables, cattle and sheep, orchards and vineyards, thrive.

In one hall, a 1920s harvest mural sets the scene for the impressive display of a 1919 Harris hillside wheat combine at work, complete with lifesize replicas of a team of 33 mules. Numerous of other exhibits include a pre-combine stationary threshing outfit, an ox-shoeing stall made of hand-hewn timbers, a cigar-shaped water wagon, and a branding iron collection.
 
And at the nearby cook wagon, visitors can almost see the dust hanging in the air, the intense heat rising from the old cookstove, enamel plates piled with thick biscuits, and the sweat-soaked, dirt-stained men lining up at the door.
 
Photos illustrate working parts of an 1886 steam engine, detail from a combine, one of the many archival images on display and a sheep wagon used on the summer range.

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Lloyd Family


Lloyd Family Exhibit

Lloyd Family


Lloyd Family Exhibit

More than 250 artifacts, regalia, photographs, and documents comprise the Lloyd Family Indian Artifact Collection. While the collection contains many well-preserved examples of traditional Indian crafts and truly wonderful pieces of art, it is the history associated with these items that makes them museum treasures.
 
In the 1850s, a former member of the Oregon Volunteer Militia, Albert G. Lloyd, negotiated a treaty with the Palouse people for use of Indian land. In exchange, the Indian people retained the use of a traditional campsite on the property.
 
Through the years, trust grew between the Lloyd family and their Indian neighbors, the bonds of friendship strengthened by the frequent exchange of gifts. This positive relationship continued into the 1940s, and the gifts the Lloyds received were carefully stored away.
 
Now, as we appreciate the vibrancy of color in woven bags, embroidery, baskets, and beadwork, we embrace a remarkable example for our time, a story of friendship between two very different cultures.

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Military


Military Exhibits

Military


Military Exhibits

Fort Walla Walla, one of the longest-occupied military posts in the Northwest, was home to dragoon, infantry, artillery, and cavalry units from 1856 to 1910. The presence of the Fort helped keep peace between settlers and the Homeland tribal peoples during much of this period. Soldiers from the Fort were only involved in a handful of military engagements, including that of Colonel Edward J. Steptoe and his men in 1858 and several battles during the Nez Perce and Bannock-Paiute Wars two decades later. After closing in 1910, the Fort briefly reopened during World War I as a training base for artillery.
 
The Museum’s collection of military artifacts and archival photos as well as paintings and drawings brings this history to vivid life. Look back on the times and the people involved through stories, documents, and outstanding artifacts, including a 1902 14th Cavalry dress uniform, rare insignia and accouterments from belt buckles to cartridge boxes, and weapons ranging from an 1860 Light Cavalry Saber to a Colt dragoon revolver lost by one of Steptoe’s men.

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Textiles


Textile Exhibits

Textiles


Textile Exhibits

A showcase of hats representing fashions from 1850 to 1950 welcomes visitors to a roomful of early textiles. Items shown, many in pristine condition, range from women’s dresses, dressed dolls, and children’s apparel to Indian regalia and trappers’ gear.
 
Other textiles, including military uniforms, Walla Walla baseball uniforms, and pioneer domestic items enhance exhibits throughout the museum.
  
Our Heritage Fashion Runway is a rotating exhibit showcasing women's, men's, and even children's fashions from times past.

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Blue Mountain Locomotive


Blue Mountain Locomotive

a journey comes full circle

Blue Mountain Locomotive


Blue Mountain Locomotive

a journey comes full circle

In June of 2017, Museum welcomed the return of the Blue Mountain, Dorsey Baker’s only surviving narrow gauge locomotive, to the Museum for long-term display. This locomotive was ordered by Dr. Baker in the fall of 1877 for the Walla Walla & Columbia River Railroad that ran between Wallula and Walla Walla. It is the oldest existing locomotive used in Washington State.

Work on Dorsey Baker’s Railroad began in 1871 under the corporate name Walla Walla & Columbia River Railroad Company, and was completed in October of 1875. Timber for the road’s ties and bridges was obtained along the Yakima River and a mill was erected on the Columbia in Wallula to process the wood. Over 9,000 tons of wheat were hauled over the line in 1875; 15,266 tons in 1876. Baker sold most of his company stock in 1879 to the Oregon Steam Navigation Company (later the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company). Starting in 1881, local lines were converted to standard gauge, eventually leaving 14 miles of track into the Blue Mountains as the only remaining narrow gauge track in the area.

In 1893, the Blue Mountain was shipped via boat to the Columbia gorge, where it worked the portage railroad for 11 years. In 1906 it was sent to the Nome gold fields of Alaska to serve mining operations. By 1910, the Nome gold rush was over and train service ended, marking the last run of the Blue Mountain. However, its story was not over—sometime in the 1940s, the locomotive was submerged in the Bering Sea as a part of the Nome sea wall. Eventually it was retrieved by a Nome resident and acquired by the Washington State Railroad Historical Society in Pasco, WA, in 1992.

The Museum houses additional artifacts from the Walla Walla & Columbia River Railroad in the Babcock Railroad Depot, located in the Museum’s Pioneer Village. A Baker Railroad Diorama showing a scale model of the railroad can be found in the Museum’s Exhibit Hall 2. Work will continue into the future on the Blue Mountain’s restoration and exhibit space. 

The project partners who helped to bring the Blue Mountain home include Baker Boyer Bank, Konen Rock Products, Lampson International, Narum Concrete Co, Opp & Seibold General Construction, Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad, Town & Country Tree Service, Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla Sunrise Rotary, Washington State Railroads Historical Society, and the support of private donors.

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Transportation


Transportation Exhibits

 

Transportation


Transportation Exhibits

 

A Concord Coach, shipped here in 1861 by way of Cape Horn, entices visitors into Walla Walla’s colorful frontier history as soon as they enter the museum. Passengers from outlaws to priests, soldiers to settlers probably rode the rugged coach, thankful when they finally arrived at this territorial town.
 
Throughout the museum, other early modes of transportation can be seen, most driven at one time or another through the towns and farms of the Walla Walla valley. These range from the elegant to the workaday and include a “Southern Special” buggy, a fancy doctor’s buggy, a sport buggy or convertible, and several sleighs.
 
Many styles of wagons are featured, including a heavy dray wagon, circa 1900, and a variety of buckboards. Finally, visitors will not want to miss the beauiful horse-drawn fire pumper purchased in 1904 by the Walla Walla fire department. It is displayed along with a hose cart and the brass poles and doors from the old fire station.

The museum’s collection of old-time vehicles includes not only a Concord coach but also buggies, sleighs, freight wagons, a covered wagon,  a 1921 Dodge touring car, and a horse drawn fire pumper puchased in 1904 by the Walla Walla fire department.

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Pioneer Village


Pioneer Village

Early buildings of Walla Walla.

Pioneer Village


Pioneer Village

Early buildings of Walla Walla.

A stroll through the museum’s Pioneer Village offers a taste of real life in and around Walla Walla in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Encircling a common area, the 17 structures range from cabins and a school to blacksmith and dentist shops — all filled with interesting furnishings and artifacts. Visitors can see the places where real people lived, worked, played, and attended school. The Village includes 15 original buildings from within 30 miles of Walla Walla, including:

The Ransom Clark Cabin: Clark, a member of the 1843 Fremont surveying expedition, returned to settle in the valley and began building a log house in 1859. The large structure features two living areas separated by a breezeway.

The Kennedy Playhouse: A charming  miniature house built in 1903 by Henry and Clara Baker for their daughter, Henrietta, the playhouse showcases a doll collection and other child-sized artifacts, from dishes to a toy ironing board.

Doctor’s Office: In the late 1800s local doctor Dorsey Baker may have used an office like this one, equipped with medical furnishings, instruments, and supplies of the day. The structure was originally a cabin that stood on the Fort’s grounds.

Babcock Railroad Depot: In the 1880s, trains picked up passengers at small stations like this one built by the Northern Pacific near Eureka, Washington. It’s authenticity is enhanced by a collection of railroad artifacts from the region.

Prescott Jail: When troublemakers celebrated too freely at the several taverns in Prescott, a town in the middle of wheat fields and farms 20 miles from Walla Walla, they likely saw the inside of this jail, built in 1903.

Union School: Original blackboards and lamp brackets are among the features of Union School, one of the oldest and best preserved one-room schoolhouses in the area.