Temporary Exhibits

Fox and Coyote and Whale

June 9 – August 29

These days, as images of submerged coastlines and melting ice caps rattle the nerves of insomniacs, many of us are asking, How did we get here? For artist RYAN! Feddersen, the evidence points to Coyote, a handsome, bandanna-wearing carnivore who happens to be a major trickster in the pantheon of Native American mythology. Coyote, it turns out, is the figure responsible for global warming – and the poster boy for many other a human foible in Feddersen’s artistic universe. Her new interactive mural, “Coyote Now: Messing About with Whale” will debut at Ocean Fest, June 9.

For her ongoing series, “Coyote Now”, the Tacoma-based artist pioneered a new medium – interactive murals that resemble sheets torn from a larger-than-life coloring book – as a vehicle for storytelling. Feddersen is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, and Native American mythology provides the backbone for her large-scale, participatory installations.


As Above, So Below

June 9 – August 4

This body of work began while I was researching manifestations of feeding frenzies. My work has often involved masses of beings (humans and otherwise) engaged with, and against, each other during phenomena such as migrations, stampedes and riots.

I was first drawn to explore the predator-prey relationship in Key West, when while swimming around the island, I witnessed a tiger shark feeding on a group of spawning tarpon. New experiences awaited when I transplanted to the Pacific Northwest and became an avid open-water swimmer all year round, often swimming in the Puget Sound off Alki Beach in West Seattle. The water is remarkably clear, especially in winter, so I’ve been able to experience all kinds of wildlife in their natural habitat. I have often been fortunate enough to see whales cruising by. I began to look into images of bait balls and lunge feeding by rorquals – said to be the largest bio-mechanical event on Earth. I was interested in the dynamic scale relationship between baleen whales and their tiny prey, and the act of picking up speed and opening your mouth to swallow everything in sight. I’m fascinated by the thought that a bait ball is a defensive maneuver that often backfires by attracting predators, resulting in a feeding frenzy. Something about feeling vulnerable and small in a vast ocean as an open-water swimmer, makes me think and dream big.

Vintage Scuba

Not many people realize that Jacques Cousteau’s famous vessel, Calypso, was built in Ballard, Washington. This exhibit highlights the evolution of underwater adventures, with a special focus on the story of Jacques Cousteau.

Watch historic footage of octopus wrestling and diving in Puget Sound. See scuba gear from the 50s and 60s. Stand aboard a to-scale model of the Calypso. Learn more about the history of scuba diving in this unique adventure into the exploration of underwater worlds.


10 Years of Clean Water

The waters of Commencement Bay were once so polluted that fish mutated. From 1994 to 2006, the City of Tacoma worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) return environmental stability to Tacoma’s waterfront. $105 million later, over two-million cubic yards of contaminated sentiment had been removed. Learn more about the cleanup initiative that helped bring a decimated ecosystem back to life.

Tacoma cleanup crew hard at work.

Learn how the waters of Commencement Bay changed from the most hazardous site in the country to the beautiful waterfront of today. Run water through a replica of the “Twin 96ers” to see how water from storm drains is cleaned before entering into the Bay. Enjoy our art installations created by Sherman Elementary School.