Vashon Heritage Museum officials Rota Brogan, Elsa Croonquist and Brian Brenno stand with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Jennifer Meisner, a historic preservation officer, during a ceremony to accept the Spellman Award for two of the museum’s exhibits (Courtesy Photo).

Vashon Heritage Museum officials Rota Brogan, Elsa Croonquist and Brian Brenno stand with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Jennifer Meisner, a historic preservation officer, during a ceremony to accept the Spellman Award for two of the museum’s exhibits (Courtesy Photo).

Vashon Heritage Museum receives prestigious award

Museum received John D. Spellman Award for “sharing stories and perspectives that needed telling.”

  • Wednesday, November 6, 2019 1:42pm
  • News

The Vashon Heritage Museum was recognized by King County with an award for showcasing histories of Vashon-Maury Island’s diverse communities.

The museum was given the John D. Spellman Award for two of its exhibits, “Joy and Heartache,” focusing on the Japanese-American experience, and the Museum’s current exhibit, “In and Out: Being LGBTQ on Vashon Island.”

The Spellman award, named after a Washington governor who was King County’s first county executive, was established to honor people and organizations for their efforts in preserving state history. Museum officials attended a ceremony to receive the award from King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Office of Historic Preservation.

“We applaud the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association for sharing stories and perspectives that needed telling, and for raising the voices of our neighbors, friends and fellow community members,” Constantine said in remarks at the ceremony, according to a press release put out by the museum.

The exhibit “Joy and Heartache,” Vashon’s Japanese-American Legacy, has helped educate islanders on Japanese-Americans who contributed to Vashon-Maury’s agriculture. It was assembled in partnership with the Friends of Mukai, the Vashon Japanese-American Research Project and the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust and is currently on display at the Mukai Farm and Garden.

The museum’s current exhibit, “In and Out: Being LGBTQ on Vashon Island,” running through March of 2020, leads visitors through a timeline of events and individual stories. It extends beyond the museum walls, into an outdoor AIDS garden and ultimately into the larger community through a Queer Film Series hosted by the Vashon Senior Center and the Vashon Theatre.

“There is not a formally or informally organized LGBTQ+ community on Vashon; the community is more a spread of disparate individuals who, while they may know each other, have never witnessed themselves represented publicly as an identified community,” Ellen Kritzman and Stephen Silha, curators for the exhibit, said in the news release. “This exhibit represents and tells the story of the LGBTQ+ community on Vashon-Maury Island.”

Bruce Haulman, Heritage board member and local historian, praised both the “Joy and Heartache,” and “In and Out” exhibits.

“The Vashon Heritage Museum is where history lives on Vashon,” he stated. “That history cannot be adequately told without including the stories of all of the people of Vashon. For too long, the stories of women, people of color, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ islanders, and other marginalized groups have been left out of our island’s history. The Heritage Museum is committed to telling all of the stories that come together to form the living history of this magical island.”

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