Nov. 20, 2009

The Lightcatcher - Whatcom Museum's latest addition

Whatcom Museum's latest addition The Lightcatcher has just opened this week.With the buildings architectural design and it's exhibits, the museum will be bridging the gap between art and nature, showing the beautiful simplicity of nature's form and function.

LightcatcherThe building's name comes from the Lightcatcher wall. Designed in an arc, the 37-foot-high and 180-foot translucent wall surrounds the courtyard capturing, filtering and translating the light of the sun. The building has an interesting shape but I find it's dull sand color exterior a little boring, some vibrant color or a mural would make it a lot more interesting.

The Lightcatcher is the first museum in Washington State built to LEED Silver standards and it includes a green roof and rainwater harvesting strategies that will be used for public education.The roof manages stormwater, their is a natural ventilation systems in the Lightcatcher wall, and a cistern for harvesting rainwater, as well as a rain garden in the courtyard,

One of the premier exhibits is  John Grade's architectural installation of sculptures that he calls “Bloom:  The Elephant Bed,” 10 bell-shaped sculptures hanging from the 26-foot high ceiling. A type of organism called coccolithophores that forms algal blooms, was Grade's inspiration for the sculpture. After millions of years of decay and deposit, their calciferous skeletons have became the basis of England's chalky white cliffs of Dover. The “elephant bed” is a layer in the chalk deposit that holds the fossilized bones of ox, deer and even mammoth.  The sculptures are made of water-soluble materials and over the course of the exhibit, a few will be lowered into a pool of inky-black water where they will slowly dissolve.  On Saturday, April 10, 2010 the remaining pieces will be cast into Bellingham Bay after a public procession where they will dissolve and spend eternity.

Grade's exhibit honors the natural world's state of impermanence, death and renewal; the cycle of birth and decay is nature's way of creating a sustainable habitat.

The museum's art gallery, has works that explore political, social and gender issues and show how ordinary materials and ideas can be transformed into art. The Lightcatcher building's inaugural exhibition "Out of Bounds" features more than 80 compelling works in all media - painting, sculpture, drawing, Out of Bounds is the collection of Driek and Michael Zirinsky.

The Family Interactive Gallery (FIG), formerly the Children's Museum is the Pacific Northwest's newest family attraction. Art-based activities in a dramatic setting connect visitors to our region's history and environment, the FIG promises to be a fun and engaging experience for the whole family.

The Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher is a welcome addition to the city of Bellingham.

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