I’m a huge advocate of our historical museum, in fact, as a volunteer at the Visitor’s Desk at the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, our historical museum is number one on the list of places I suggest to visitors when they stop by, it’s also one of my favorite places to take visiting friends and family.
The museum is free to visit and explore, making it accessible to everyone. They also offer inexpensive facilitated group tours at the museum and to some of the island’s historical sites such as the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, Bainbridge Gardens, Suyematsu Farm and Haiku No Niwa. For more information on group tours and pricing, click here.
However, what many don’t know is that our museum offers much, much more than just a look into island history through exhibits housed on site, they also offer several events throughout the year. One such annual event, which I recently had the pleasure of taking, is the Virginia V cruise. The Virginia V is the last surviving wooden-hull, steam-powered passenger vessel on the West Coast, and the last of the Puget Sound’s famed “Mosquito Fleet”. The ship is history in itself, having been in service from 1922 to 1938, she is still equipped with her original engine and most of her original features. The cruise around Bainbridge Island includes a light snack, and a narrated history of the 28 steamer landings that dotted the coast of the island (this year’s narrator was former WA Secretary of State Ralph Munro, who is a descendant of the pioneer Munro family – he shared his vast knowledge of the island’s past and its stories). This particular event is one of the museum’s main fundraisers and sells out quickly, it generally takes place in July and you can check the museum’s website for tickets.
The museum also partners with organizations on the island such as the BI Public Library, the BI Senior Center, the BI Museum of Art, and Bainbridge Performing Arts to offer several other free and/or inexpensive events every month. They include Living History Walks through historic areas of the island, talks and panel discussions with long-time island locals about various points in history on the island, as well as historical discussions about the Pacific Northwest.
In addition, the museum offers annual fundraising events throughout the year, such as the Virginia V cruise, the Bainbridge Island (pickleball) Founders Tournament, the “Turn Back Time” gala and auction (held in October—availability is offered primarily to members, but some spots are available to non-members), and their spring fundraiser with award-winning humanities scholar and author, Clay Jenkinson, whose lectures are done in the Chautauqua Method portraying various historical figures. These fundraisers allow the museum to remain free to all visitors, and to keep costs down for additional events they sponsor.
The museum also houses an extensive research library and climate-controlled curatorial collections room, which are both available to the general public and house a treasure-trove of historical records, maps, memorabilia, archaeological materials, oral and written histories, newspapers, and more.
If you’d like to read more about the museum, please click here to read my September 2018 blog article.
*Images used with permission from the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
*Special thanks to Brianna Kosowitz, Executive Director and Rick Chandler, Curator for taking the time to speak with me about all the museum has to offer.