Above: Visitors contemplate the unfolding richness and impact of contributions made by fellow citizens of African-American ancestry at the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle. All photos here and below copyright 2012 by Mizu M. Sugimura.
It's well and good to be aware of and show off the big boys and girls such as Seattle Art Museum, Washington State History Museum, Museum of Flight, Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum and so forth to family and out-of-town guests short on time.
However, there's no excuse for local residents to hastily omit from our lists the many often overlooked smaller gems in our local cultural crowns on account they are run often smaller in size and often located just off the well-beaten paths.
Here's my own short list of favorites in which reflect only a fine sliver of the rich collections and community resources available to area residents and their families : Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Fife Historical Society, Federal Way Historical Society, White River Valley Museum, Northwest African American Museum, Burke Memorial Museum, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Exhibit, Frye Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery and Japanese American Community Center of Washington.
Yes sirree! We all shortchange ourselves when we settle only for glitz and glamour, because the numbers of people who get a chance at rising to those elevated levels gets increasingly narrow as you climb the ladder. What we as larger communities forget is that by failing to give proper time and thoughtful reflection to those in our midst, we unconsciously relegate their significance as well as our own. Maybe this is why we are having difficulty behaving civilly in groups and our leaders can't get along in public. Hmmmmn.
More than ever, the time to give some long due respect and attention to ordinary people like ourselves who have put the effort of taking care of their families, communities and nation in order every day of their lives - many more than not who've never put on any uniform. And the place to see them, share their stories and reflect on your own is not reading People magazine or any of those other colorful supermarket tabloids waiting for the barber, stylist or doctor to finish with their prior appointment!
Above: African-American artist Xenobia Bailey's exhibit at the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle includes this exciting take on the idea of what makes a hat or traditional headdress!
The place you can connect these rare gemstones is not 24/7 hours in the middle of a bustling downtown, or in the most upscale and trendy neighborhoods where people go only to be seen. Take a page rather from a veteran old-fashioned prospector who might take a walk every so often in the more quiet, obscure areas of the land because they know from experience diligence pays its own reward.
Above: Visitors briefly converse in the spacious main lobby at the award-winning Wink Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience a community-based museum in the heart of Seattle's International District. The historical building formerly served as a headquarters for many of the area's early immigrants among others as a rooming house and nurturing a number of small independent businesses.
Your new found treasure may be open only 2-3 days a week, only during the school year, or only when volunteers are available. It could be as close as down the street, or across town tucked into a tiny storefront or reincarnated in the quiet hallways of a mothballed or even abandoned school. Most of us overlook the everyday facts in front of us, but truth be told discoveries can be made every day.
Above: The life and history of the multi-ethnic communities that pioneered the city of Fife in Pierce County is explored and celebrated several days a week at the Fife Historical Museum.
Above: A lovely hat worn by an ancestor of today's fashionable Fife citizens on display at the Fife Historical Museum.
Above: The Fife Historical Museum is situated in a quiet residential neighborhood off the major highways and ideally recalls a vision of the farming area's pastoral agricultural heritage.