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New Washington Museum Exhibits: Summer and Fall 2023

Washington State is blessed with excellent museums, and many of these will open temporary and traveling shows or debut permanent exhibitions in the summer and fall of 2023. If you’re looking to beat the heat or for something fun to do on a free day, why not spend time in one of these great spaces, as recommended by AAA Washington?

The Museum of Flight


Tip: Many Washington museums offer discounts for booking ahead online. Several museums in the Seattle-Tacoma area also participate in the library pass program that offers library card holders free admission. Also, several museums in Washington state are in the Museums for All program, which offers free or discounted admission for families receiving food assistance.

The Museum of Flight

ART+FLIGHT: through Jan. 7

The Museum of Flight departs from its traditional focus on aviation history with a community-wide celebration that connects the region’s vibrant art scene with its rich aerospace history. See artwork in all mediums, with mural painting, music, dance, family activities and guest speakers.

Museum of Museums

Sea of Vapors: June 2 to Dec. 31

See Seattle-based artist Emily Counts’ imaginative installation of female figures who travel by boat through a dream space to meet their venerated Queen. Each voyager’s physical features are playfully reimagined with abstract shapes, vibrant colors and rich textures. Counts, a Seattle native whose work has been exhibited nationally, creates ceramic and mixed-media sculptures that draw on craft traditions.

Frye Art Museum

Rafael Soldi: Soft Boy: Oct. 7 to Jan. 7

The Seattle-based artist Rafael Soldi’s first solo museum exhibition on the West Coast builds on his experience as a queer youth in Peru, bringing together three recent projects that explore gender constructions and masculinity in Latin American society. The exhibition’s core is the video Soft Boy (2023), which follows a group of uniformed, school-aged teens performing a series of rituals drawn from the artist’s memories of his days at an all-boys Catholic school.

Burke Museum

We Are Puget Sound: June 3 to Dec. 31

Based on the book “We are Puget Sound: Discovering and Recovering the Salish Sea,” this exhibit draws on the Seattle museum’s extensive collection to spotlight efforts to protect the Salish Sea region. Experience the unique culture and wildlife ranging from resident orcas and Chinook salmon to community gardens and the annual Canoe Journey, plus hear stories from scientists, tribal members and advocates.

Museum of History & Industry

25 Years of the Neddy Awards: June 4 to Sept. 5

See the art created over the past 25 years by recipients of the Neddy Artist Award, which was begun to honor Seattle artist and teacher Ned Behnke (1948-1989). The exhibition will display works from some of the last quarter century’s most significant Northwest visual artists. The Neddy Artist Awards provide two gifts of $25,000 and six of $2,000 to visual artists based in the Puget Sound region every year.

Seattle Art Museum

Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks: July 13 to Sept. 13

See more than 30 works created by the Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo, known for his distinctive portraits, at this Seattle museum. The 39-year-old artist paints the faces and bodies of his subjects in bold colors with his fingertips, bringing out the subject’s emotions. In describing his portraits, Boafo has said: “When I’m making paintings, I want the characters to be strong, I want them to be free, I want them to be independent, I want them to be unapologetic.”

Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence: Oct. 19 to Jan. 21

See more than 100 works from Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), one of the world’s most influential artists, at this Washington museum. The exhibition includes woodblock prints, paintings and illustrated books from the collection of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The show also includes 200 works by Hokusai’s teachers, students, rivals and admirers.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Renegade Edo and Paris: Japanese Prints and Toulouse-Lautrec: July 21 to Dec. 3

This exhibit draws on Seattle Art Museum’s 19th century Japanese print collection to illustrate its renegade spirit, as well as its influence on the French artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) and his contemporaries in Paris. See roughly 90 works from the museum’s collection and private holdings of Toulouse-Lautrec.

Tacoma Art Museum


LeMay America’s Car Museum

75 Years of Porsche: Through January  

Porsche celebrates its 75-year anniversary this year, and this exhibition puts the company’s engineering excellence on display. See some of the most significant and iconic Porsche models to date over its seven decades of car making.

Washington State History Museum

The Ceramics of Kenneth D. Stevens: June 24 to Jan. 1

See the work of the internationally acclaimed ceramicist Ken Stevens, who used scientific methods and a knowledge of Japanese forms to create his signature style. A long-time Art Department faculty member at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Stevens played an important role in forging cultural and artistic relationships between artists in Washington State and Japan, as well as inspired numerous notable ceramicists. 

In the Spirit Contemporary Native Arts 2023: July 22 to Sept. 24

Displays a wide variety of Native American arts, including textiles, paintings, carvings, beadwork, mixed media, basketry,and digital works. Each work is accompanied by the artist’s statement. Vote in the gallery for your favorites; the People’s Choice Awards will be announced at the end of the exhibition. Note that this will be the museum’s featured exhibition through the summer and early fall.

Tacoma Art Museum

The Current: Saying the Quiet Parts Out Loud: Through Oct. 15

The exhibition features work from The Current’s 2022 awardee Darrell McKinney, ranging from installation work to sculpture and design. To complement the artwork, the gallery’s walls are brightly painted in pinks, purples and oranges that envelop visitors in a warm, inviting space.

Museum of Glass

A Two-Way Mirror: Opens Oct. 21

See an exhibition of contemporary Black artists from the U.S., Puerto Rico and Britain. Each artist uses glass to reflect the thoughts and bodies of historically exploited people. Glass was once shut off as a medium for marginalized people due to its cost. As glass production has become more accessible, the medium has become more open to different voices.

North of Seattle

Cascadia Art Museum

Native American Modern: Shared Expressions in Northwest Art: July 27 to Oct. 29

This exhibition focuses on the art of Julius “Land Elk” Twohy (Two-vy-nah-auche) (1902–1986) and his local contemporaries. One of the region’s earlier modernists, Twohy, was best known for his paintings and prints created in Seattle through the Federal Art Projects of the 1930’s and 40’s.

Whatcom Museum

Learning to Look: Through Dec. 31, 2024, in Old City Hall

This extended exhibition challenges visitors to appreciate the art around us. Various works from the museum’s collection are arranged in the gallery into seven core elements — line, shape, form, texture, value, space and color — with question prompts and interactive activities that can help visitors learn to see.

Let It Shine: Photographs by Mina Afshari: June 24 to Oct. 29 in the Lightcatcher Building

California-based artist Mina Afshari, a young Iranian immigrant, took photos in her Carmel, Calif., apartment using a single light source — a window — to light up a farmer’s market produce and flowers. A contrast between darkness and light runs through the photos, suggesting Afshari’s personal journey to escape an oppressive regime and family trauma for a new life in the United States. This is Afshari’s debut exhibit at a museum.

washington museum maryhill museum
Maryhill Museum of Art

Eastern Washington

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

Frank S. Matsura: Portraits from the Borderland: Through Nov. 26

See photographs from Frank Sakae Matsura (1873-1913) that reveal Syilx (Okanogan) tribal communities adapting to a changing time. Matsura arrived in the U.S. from Japan about 1901, settling briefly in Seattle before making Okanogan County his home. His body of work includes some of the most visually powerful and nuanced images of Indigenous people from the era.

Maryhill Museum of Art

The Hound of Heaven: Through Nov. 15

See 23 large paintings by the American painter R.H. Ives Gammell that incorporate symbols drawn from C.G. Jung, ancient and medieval cultures, myths and the bible. The paintings date from World War II to 1956 and were inspired by a mystical/religious verse poem by English poet Francis Thompson (1859-1907). The works were last displayed together at Maryhill Museum of Art a decade ago.

Nocturnes: Through Nov. 15

This exhibition features an eclectic mix of nighttime scenes. Featured works include “Sailing Ships, Nantucket Light” by Edward Moran, “The Funeral of Victor Hugo” by Alfred Phillipe Roll, multiple nighttime scenes of Portland streets by Guy Gilray and Michael Flohr, and a large diptych by Okanagan/Sinixt artist Joe Feddersen.

Yakima Valley Museum

¡Quinceañera!: Through January

See spectacular dresses, tiaras, bouquets, shoes and other items given by families in celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday. The quinceañera is both a religious and a social event that emphasizes the importance of family and society in the life of a young woman, marking her passage from girlhood to womanhood.

Land of Joy and Sorrow: Permanent exhibit after June opening

This new permanent exhibit focuses on the mid-20th-century Japanese experience in the Yakima Valley, including the families who were displaced from their homes and interred in camps during World War II. The exhibit features objects, photos and stories of the Japanese families who settled in the area. Includes an audio tour in English and Spanish.

Portraits in Red: Opens in October

This exhibition spotlights the national problem of domestic violence in Indigenous communities, with 40 original paintings of missing or murdered Indigenous women by Nayana LaFond, herself a survivor of domestic violence and an artist of Anishinaabe, Abenaki and Mi’kmaq descent in Massachusetts. Roughly half of the portraits have a connection to the Pacific Northwest.

For more Washington museum and arts news, visit blog.wa.aaa.com.

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