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See the David Douglas exhibit at the MAC before it’s too late!

David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work is nearing the end of its run at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. The last day will be Sunday, August 25 after which it will be packed up and shipped to the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma, WA. 

If you haven't seen the exhibit yet, I urge you to check it out. We were very fortunate to have it as David Douglas' work offered the first look at descriptions of the Inland Northwest before Europen influences. 


Image courtesy of the MAC.

From the MAC: Scottish naturalist David Douglas traveled the Columbia River and interior Northwest (1825-1833), identifying and collecting over 200 species of plants, animals, and birds previously unknown to science. This locally curated exhibit features original plant specimens that Douglas collected and pressed on loan from The Herbarium and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (London, England). Also on display are rare botanical books with 19th century artwork derived from Douglas’ collections, as well as unique animal and bird mounts, pelts and skins. Families with children especially enjoy the exhibit’s interactive components, as they become explorer/naturalists themselves. Check out a field bag, grab a field guide, examine seeds and plants with a magnifying glass, sketch a seed pod, and identify some plants by their smells. Hear Douglas’s adventures inside a tent and learn some Chinook jargon used for trade. Or crouch below the huge condor to identify animal pelts.

ArtFest will stay put next year

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture's  annual ArtFest event will stay put in Browne’s Addition in 2012.

Museum officials had pondered moving the art, food and music festival from Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition to the larger Riverfront Park downtown.

The Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council viewed the prospect with alarm and called a meeting Wednesday night to voice concerns.

Forrest Rodgers, the MAC’s new executive director, talked to neighborhood representatives and said Thursday that ArtFest will remain at Coeur d’Alene Park next year.

‘Leonardo’ hits its mark

The final numbers are in for “Leonardo da Vinci: Man – Inventor – Genius.”

About 38,000 people attended this summer-long traveling exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC).

It came close to the museum’s attendance goals and more than met its financial goals, according to the people at the MAC.

The final week – the week before Labor Day – was particularly strong, attracting 6,500 people.

“There were lines out the front door and even out in the street,” said museum spokeswoman Rebecca Bishop.

The MAC would have liked to have broken the 40,000-visitor mark set by the “T. rex Named Sue” exhibit in 2007. However, the T. rex exhibit charged regular museum admission while the da Vinci exhibit had special (higher) pricing.

“Leonardo” was also a hit with schools. A total of 3,400 people visited as part of school groups.

The MAC also signed up 500 new members over the exhibit’s span.

MAC gets new executive director

Forrest B. Rodgers has been appointed the new executive director of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC).

Rodgers was most recently the director of the Central Washington University Foundation in Ellensburg.

From 2001 to 2007, he was the president and CEO of the privately funded High Desert Museum in Bend, Ore., which reversed a decline in paid attendance.

He will take over on Aug. 1 from Ron Rector, who is retiring.

It is, of course, too early to tell what Rodgers will mean to the MAC. Yet I can say that the MAC could do worse than emulate the High Desert Museum, one of the Northwest's best and most entertaining regional museums.

A Leonardo learning experience

Line I overheard on the bus last week: "That Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the MAC isn't even real! They want us to pay to see a bunch of fake stuff!"

OK, where should I begin?

First, get real. Did you truly expect the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) to have an original da Vinci painting? There are only about 16 da Vinci paintings in existence and unless your museum has the word "Louvre" in it's name, your chances of getting one is just about nil.

Second, most of the exhibit consists of large, wooden models of mechanical devices made from drawings in da Vinci's notebooks. You can call those "fakes," I suppose, except there there is no such thing as an "original" of these devices. Da Vinci never made any.

Third, "fake" or not, you'll learn a heck of a lot about da Vinci, one of the most remarkable minds of all time. And isn't that the point?

Fourth, decades ago, I once saw the "Mona Lisa" on loan to the National Gallery in Washington D.C. Yeah, it was the real thing, all right, but the crowds were so enormous (500,000 in 27 days)  and the security was so tight I got about a one-second glimpse of it. We were whisked past it on moving walkway. The one I saw at the MAC was a fake — a digital reproduction — but I sure got a better look at the old girl.

Swinging through ArtFest

Just completed a circuit of ArtFest at Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition.

I say "circuit" because this year, the 140 art booths are arranged in a giant circle, which makes it easier to stroll through this  juried art festival without missing anything. 

The Brent Edstrom Trio was playing some tasty jazz and people were beginning to gather in the wine-beer garden.

If you can make it this weekend (it runs through Sunday), I would highly recommend it. Be sure to check out ElkFest, too, outside The Elk, just a few blocks away. The Camaros. a great local band, were about to take the stage when we walked by.

By the way, Coeur d'Alene Park is in Spokane, not Coeur d'Alene. Not that that's confusing or anything.

A sneak peek at ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ at the MAC

I just walked through “Leonardo da Vinci: Man – Inventor – Genius” while installers and curators readied it for a June 3 opening at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), 2316 W. First.

Among the highlights:

  • A huge full-size reproduction of da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” and I mean huge: 15 feet tall by 28 feet wide.
  • A full-size reproduction of “Mona Lisa,” surprisingly compact at 27 inches by 22 inches.
  • A working model of da Vinci’s design for the “Screw of Archimedes” – a contraption that can crank water uphill.
  • A fearsome “Scythe Machine,” a chariot-like vehicle with whirling scythe blades to cut down enemies.

This exhibit, which will run all summer, ought to be a hit with kids and adults. Tickets are now on sale through TicketsWest outlets.

Please note that I said “reproductions” of the paintings. The originals are far too valuable and delicate to be hauled around the world. In the case of “Last Supper,” you’d have to uproot an entire Italian church. It’s painted on a wall in Milan.

The MAC evades death

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) has escaped the death sentence.

We just received word that the museum received $2.965 million in the state budget, which is a cut of five percent. That's far less severe than feared.

The museum will have to trim some services or operations — but will be able to remain open. Watch for an SR news story soon with more details.

Save the MAC with a beer and a doughnut

A bunch of Browne’s Addition restaurants and shops have initiated MAC Madness, in which you get a discount for writing a letter to your local legislator urging support for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), which is facing the possibility of closure due to state funding cuts.

 So the following places are partnering with the Save the MAC people to encourage a letter writing campaign for the month of March. Here are the deals you get:

The Elk, 1931 W. Pacific Ave.: $1 off drinks throughout the week when you write a letter (beginning March 6) Also, Sundays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., informal letter writing party.

 Italia Trattoria, 144 S. Cannon St.: Saturday and Sunday brunch, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., write a letter while you dine and they will treat you to an Italian doughnut with your a purchase of an entree.

The Avenue, 2001 W. Pacific Ave.: All day Wednesdays,  $1 off drinks with a letter; MAC Special is any two topping medium pizza for $10 (regularly $14) with a letter.

Tully's, 2001 W. Pacific Ave.: Seven days a week, receive 10 percent off any barista beverage that is accompanied by a letter. Browne's Addition location only.

Also, the Roberts Mansion, 1923 W. First Ave., is offering free tours on Friday, March 4, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (First Friday) if you write a letter to your legislator.

Letter templates, by the way, will be provided.