Spokane, located in the heart of the Inland Northwest, is a city of rich history, diverse cultures, and flourishing arts. For visitors and locals alike, the city’s museums are a gateway to understanding Spokane’s past, present, and future.
From the historical tales of the indigenous peoples to the latest contemporary art installations, Spokane’s museums offer a broad spectrum of knowledge and experiences. Here’s our list of the top 8 best museums you shouldn’t miss in this vibrant city.
1. Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC)
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, commonly known as the MAC, is Spokane’s largest cultural organization. Dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the region’s heritage, the MAC boasts a staggering collection of over one million artifacts and historic photographs.
The museum’s displays span various disciplines, from art, history, and culture, seamlessly blending indigenous tales with the region’s evolving story. From the expansive Native American collection to captivating art exhibitions, the MAC offers an insightful and immersive experience.
Special events and traveling exhibits further enhance the MAC experience. So, whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or just curious, this place should top your list.
2. Spokane Valley Heritage Museum
Situated in the heart of Spokane Valley, the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum offers a fascinating look into the region’s past. With its detailed dioramas, old photographs, and interactive displays, this place vividly captures the spirit of the bygone eras.
A focal point is the museum’s dedication to the early pioneers, their struggles, achievements, and the legacy they left behind. The interactive oral histories feature brings stories to life, giving visitors a chance to hear firsthand accounts from yesteryears.
Beyond its permanent exhibits, the museum frequently hosts special events and temporary exhibits. This ensures that there’s always something new to discover, making every visit unique.
3. Mobius Children’s Museum
A perfect destination for families, the Mobius Children’s Museum offers an interactive learning environment for kids. Located in the heart of downtown Spokane, it aims to spark curiosity and promote lifelong learning through play.
The exhibits are hands-on and designed to engage young minds. From art installations to science experiments, every corner of this location is a learning opportunity waiting to be explored. The water play area and the giant Lite Brite are crowd favorites.
Additionally, this location offers regular workshops and events tailored for kids. These programs often intertwine fun with education, ensuring that the young visitors not only enjoy their time but also leave with newfound knowledge.
4. Jundt Art Museum
Nestled within the Gonzaga University campus, the Jundt Art Museum stands as a testament to the university’s commitment to promoting art and culture. This place houses an impressive collection of more than 6,000 artworks, ranging from prints to sculptures.
Visitors can explore permanent displays, including the works of renowned artists like Auguste Rodin and Marc Chagall. The museum’s rotating exhibitions, often featuring contemporary artists, provide fresh perspectives and introduce audiences to emerging art trends.
The Jundt Art Museum also prides itself on being an educational hub. With regular lectures, workshops, and tours, the museum aims to make art accessible to all and foster a love for the arts.
5. Spokane Fire Department Museum
Celebrating the brave firefighters of Spokane and the rich history of fire service, the Spokane Fire Department Museum offers an illuminating experience. Housed in a historic firehouse, the museum showcases antique fire engines, equipment, and memorabilia from bygone eras.
The displays take visitors on a journey, highlighting the evolution of fire service and the challenges faced by firefighters. The life-sized dioramas recreate historic fire scenes, bringing dramatic moments back to life. Beyond its static displays, the museum offers guided tours where experts share anecdotes and insights.
These stories of bravery and innovation resonate deeply, making the museum’s experience both educational and inspirational.
6. Campbell House
A step into the Campbell House is like a step back in time. This beautifully preserved historic mansion, built in the early 20th century, showcases the opulence and lifestyle of Spokane’s elite during that era. Each room in the house is meticulously curated, from the vintage furnishings to the ornate wallpapers, painting a vivid picture of the past.
Guided tours offer intriguing insights into the Campbell family’s life and the architectural marvel that is their residence. Besides its historical significance, the Campbell House hosts various cultural events throughout the year. These events, often centered around the arts and history, make the mansion a focal point of Spokane’s cultural scene.
7. Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
While primarily known for its exquisite wines, Arbor Crest Wine Cellars also boasts a rich history, making it a must-visit. The Cliff House, a stunning 1924 mansion atop a basalt cliff, offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into Spokane’s historic elegance.
The estate grounds, dotted with sculptures and gardens, are a visual treat. Inside, visitors can learn about the Riblet family’s legacy, the mansion’s history, and, of course, the fine art of winemaking. Regular wine tastings, coupled with the historic tours, make Arbor Crest a unique blend of culture, history, and indulgence.
Do these museums offer discounts for students or seniors?
Many museums in Spokane, like in many cities, offer discounts for students, seniors, and sometimes even military personnel. It’s recommended to check the official website or call ahead to inquire about specific discount opportunities.
Are any of the mentioned museums pet-friendly?
While most of them have policies that restrict pets, some outdoor areas or estates, like the grounds of Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, might permit pets. It’s essential to check with individual locations before visiting with your furry friend.
How accessible are these museums for individuals with disabilities?
Most modern and large-scale museums in Spokane prioritize accessibility and have provisions like ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms.
However, some historic sites may have limited accessibility due to their age and design. Always best to check ahead of your visit.
Do these museums offer special programs for school groups or educational tours?
Yes, many of them offer special programs tailored for school groups, aiming to provide educational experiences that align with curriculum standards. Teachers and educators can usually arrange guided tours or workshops by contacting the museum in advance.
Are there any special events or night openings for these museums?
Some of them host special events, night openings, or themed nights throughout the year. These can range from art openings at the Jundt Art Museum to wine-tasting events at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. Checking the event calendars online can provide detailed information.
Can I purchase a multi-museum pass for Spokane’s attractions?
While some cities offer multi-museum passes, Spokane doesn’t have one. However, individual museums might offer membership programs that provide benefits like unlimited visits and guest passes. Checking with Spokane’s tourist information center might also yield new initiatives or programs.
Spokane, with its rich tapestry of history and culture, offers a plethora of museum experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a curious local, these locations in Spokane promise a journey of discovery, enlightenment, and inspiration.
So, the next time you find yourself in this beautiful city, make sure to delve deep into its past, present, and future through its mesmerizing museums. We’ve also recently written about the Clarke House on Hayden Lake, so make sure to check it out.