At Fort Walla Walla Museum more than 50,000 artifacts and photographs as well as a Living History series and other events and programs tell the story of the many people who have inhabited the Walla Walla Valley.
When Lewis and Clark traveled through the valley in 1806, Indian Tribal People still camped freely along its many creeks. By 1818 fur traders had established a post, and in the 1840s wagon trains were stopping at the Whitman Mission. Soldiers established the first military Fort Walla Walla in 1856 followed by settlers who built houses, businesses and churches.
During a gold rush in the early 1860s, farmers, bankers, and businessmen prospered. The effects of the gold rush and a growing agricultural industry made Walla Walla the largest city in Washington Territory. Since then, the area has been the center of a region known for its agricultural products.
The Museum occupies 15 acres within Fort Walla Walla Park, part of the original 640-acre military reservation. It features a spacious Entrance Hall and Exhibit Galleries, four additional exhibit halls, and a Pioneer Village. The Administration Building houses two levels of climate-controlled storage and two research libraries. An early military cemetery lies adjacent to the museum grounds.
In addition, Fort Walla Walla Museum provides archaeology services to the region with professional staffing and a fully equipped laboratory.
To Discover, Preserve, and Share Walla Walla Regional Heritage
Walla Walla has long been known as the “Cradle of Pacific Northwest History.” By creating connections with this history, Fort Walla Walla Museum provides a sense of belonging to both long-term local residents and families that move to the area.
The Museum strives to continue to learn about the region’s heritage, to share this heritage through exhibits, events, publications, and other programs, and to keep it safe for future generations.
Fort Walla Walla Museum/Walla Walla Valley Historical Society, a not-for-profit organization, traces its lineage to 1886 with the forming of the Walla Walla Valley Pioneer Historical Society. The Museum opened to the public at its current location in Fort Walla Walla Park in 1968.
A era of qualitative growth was launched in 1998, with the appointment of an executive director. Advances included increased programs and services, addition of a development program, computerization of collection records, and significant additions to the collection.
Construction of a Headquarters building was completed in 2001. In addition to office space, it contains 6,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage for long-term care of artifacts, an exhibit staging area, and research library.
In April 2010, the Museum opened a new Entrance Hall and Galleries with much added exhibit space, restrooms, parking, a larger store, and space for a future orientation theater. In further support of its mission, the museum also has inaugurated a new Heritage Research Services division, which provides archaeology and other cultural resource expertise to the region.
Fort Walla Walla Museum looks forward to continued growth of programs and services to help this changing community treasure its distinctive past and carry it into the future.