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Posted on: July 21, 2015

15-050 History Museum exhibit features rare photos of state parks

Agencies partner on free Community Gallery display opening Aug. 1

OLYMPIA – July 21, 2015 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) announce the opening of a new exhibit at the State History Museum in Tacoma featuring rare 1930s-era Asahel Curtis images of state parks.

The exhibit—“Washington State Parks Through the Lens of Asahel Curtis”— runs from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31 at the Washington State History Museum’s Community Gallery, 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402. (Directions: The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. On the third Thursday of every month, the museum is open until 8 p.m. with free admission from 2 to 8 p.m.

The photographs, taken during the Great Depression, capture the early recreational use and development of Washington’s state park system. Many show parks under construction by crews from federal work relief programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The exhibit features some of Washington’s most cherished state parks, including Deception Pass, Mount Spokane, Sun Lakes-Dry Falls, Moran and Saltwater.

Asahel Curtis (1874-1941) is among the most prominent photographers of the Pacific Northwest. He spent more than 40 years documenting the rapid transformation of Washington state that occurred during his lifetime. His photographs provide one of the most complete historic records of this period.

The photographs featured are from a unique type of media called lantern slides. Originally black and white photos, they were color-tinted by hand in Curtis’s Seattle studio. The slides were recently digitized and are in the care of the State Park’s Collections Program.

The exhibit was funded by revenues from the Washington State Parks specialty license plate, which are used exclusively towards state park education programs. For information on ordering, please visit  


About the Washington State Historical Society
Founded in 1891 and now in its second century of service, the Washington State Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving and vividly presenting Washington's rich and varied history. The Historical Society comprises a family of museums and research centers, offering a variety of services to researchers, historians, scholars and lifelong learners. The Historical Society connects personal, local, regional and national stories to the universality of the human experience—and collects materials from our state that help tell those stories. The Historical Society aims to be indispensable to the people of Washington and a vital part of state government. 

Contact the museum at 1-888-BE-THERE or log on to Admission is $11/adults, $8 students/seniors/military. Follow the Washington State History Museum on Facebook at or on Twitter @HistoryMuseum. 

About Washington State Parks
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

Follow Washington State Parks:

Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site at

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit

Media contacts:
Sam Wotipka, (360) 902-8665
Kim Wirtz, WA State Historical Society, (253) 798-5902
Toni Droscher, (360) 902-8604           
Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service: (800) 833-6388




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