For such a small town, La Conner has a wealth of art and museums.
- Museum of Northwest Art
- Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum (Formerly La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum)
- Skagit County Historical Museum
- The Norwester Museum Tour
And, all of them are less than a 15-minute walk from La Conner Marina, which makes it easy to do the rounds and make it a museum day.
Museums in La Conner, WA
Museum of Northwest Art
“We strive to have something that relates to everyone, and there is always something people will respond to.” ~ Chole Dye Sherpe, Associate Curator
The Museum of Northwest Art (MONA) focuses on Northwest School Art and has a rotating permanent collection and rotating exhibits. While the terminology “Northwest School Art” doesn’t represent a formal school, it does embody an artistic movement that began organically with four artists known as “the big four.” They are Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves and Mark Tobey. In 1953, Life magazine featured an article on these artists, and their work became nationally recognized. For thirty-five years, the museum has been curating exhibiting art from new and established Northwest artists in all mediums. There are two floors and a gift shop.
During my visit, the exhibit was Matched Makers, which showcased art from Northwest artist couples. Each pair had their art displayed in a wide range of art forms including ceramics, painting, fiber art and metalsmithing along with some information about them as an artist and a couple.
Exhibits from January 14 to March 26 include:
- Paul Havas: A Life of Painting
- Continuum: Glass from the Permanent Collection
- Indigenous Influences
Address: 121 N. 1st St. La Conner, 98257
Admission: Free. Donations gladly accepted.
Hours: Sunday & Monday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tip: Give yourself at least an hour to tour the museum.
Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum
A visit to the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum is like getting two museums in one as it is located in the historic 1891 Gaches Mansion. The museum has three floors with exhibits on each floor. The first floor also has a gift shop, library and workshop space. This year, the museum is celebrating 20 years, and on January 28th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m they are having an Anniversary Kick-Off Event.
During my visit, the exhibits were Handmade Dolls, Ekphrastic: Quilts & Poetry, and The Nature of Place. I particularly liked The Nature of Place as it was about the artists “perceptions of the nature of Denali National Park” in Alaska. Having lived in Alaska for ten years, I was impressed how their quilts captured the feel and beauty of the landscape.
Exhibits for the first half of the year include:
- Charlotte Bird & Ree Nancarrow: The Nature of Place (Ends Jan. 29)
- Local Artists: Crazy Quilts (Ends Jan. 29)
- Sharon Tucker: Improv Inspiration
- Gwen Marston: Abstract Quilts in Solids (Jan. 4 to Mar. 26)
- Various Artists: Elemental (Feb. 1 to 26)
- High Fiber Diet: It’s Not Easy Being Green (Feb. 1 to Apr. 30)
- Needlework Samples (Mar. 1 to 26)
Address: 703 South Second Street, La Conner, WA 98257
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $7; Students & Military with ID $5; Members & Children 12 and under FREE.
Tip: Give yourself at least an hour to tour the museum.
Skagit County Historical Museum
The Skagit County Historical Museum is a wealth of information about the Skagit Valley, including native inhabitants, settlers, and immigrants. The museum contains three galleries; one is a permanent exhibit and the other two rotate. They also have a research library, which can be used by appointment.
During my visit, the rotating exhibits were “Skagit Christmas” and “Mas Voces del Valle,” which is about the Skagit Valley’s Mexican American community. You’ll be impressed by the amount of information and collections the museum has, and what is shown is only a portion. I enjoyed learning about the history of the Skagit Valley’s farming culture, discovering its lost cities, and seeing real historical artifacts.
The museum is closed during the month of January and will reopen in February.
- Washington Remembers WWII (This exhibit is on loan from the Secretary of State’s office and takes visitors “around the globe to crucial battles on foreign soil, German concentration camps, and to the American home front.)
Address: 501 South 4th St, La Conner, WA 98257
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $5; Families $10; Seniors and Children 6 to 12 $4; Children 5 and under FREE. Also free for members.
Tip: Give yourself 1.5-hours to tour the museum.
Last year the Norwester, John Wayne’s first yacht, had its Grand Opening. Museum tours are limited to 10 people and include a 30-minute guided tour of the boat Wayne affectionately called “Little Goose.” Guests get to see all three cabins, crew quarters, the kitchen, salon, and wheelhouse. Guides share stories about Wayne, his time on the boat and his career. Items he used in everyday life will be on display like slippers, hats, belt buckles, and other personal effects like a painting and letter from his wife Pilar Pallete, and memorabilia from movies like uniforms and bandannas. And, visitors can sit in the Duke’s captain’s chair!
Address: Pier 7 off Gilkey Square
Hours: During the summer season, the museum will be open seven days a week from 12-6 p.m. In the fall and winter, it will be open on weekends.
Admission: $14 per person.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary tours for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. Built in 1932, the fully resorted
Lara Dunning is a member of the Waggoner Cruising Guide team and has made one trip up the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, AK. She is enthusiastic about small town living, and you can read more about her discoveries at Small Town Washington. She has been published in Bainbridge Island Magazine, Northwest Travel & Life Magazine, Wander With Wonder, and Whidbey Life Magazine.