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Online archive to showcase some of Metro Parks’ art works, cultural artifacts

September 7, 2016

Site features photos, descriptions of historic structures, memorials, and art in parks, facilities

Ever wonder about the origin of the statues in Tacoma’s Wright Park? Who wrote the poetry in the waterfront promenade between Owen Beach and the Point Defiance Boathouse? Who created the bronze image of a family in the center of the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium?

Metro Parks Tacoma is excited to unveil a new route for discovering the answers to these questions. “This new archive of art and artifacts is designed to both satisfy and stimulate interest in Metro Parks Tacoma’s cultural assets,” said Melissa McGinnis, Metro Parks’ historic and cultural resources manager.

Each artwork or artifact has its own page with a brief description and accompanying images. Many of the photographs are historical, showing the early days of the parks. The catalog also provides links to additional sources of information, such as the Wright Park page on the Metro Parks website with location details and hours of operation.


Items were selected from parks all across Tacoma for the online collection, many because they are the frequent focus of visitors’ questions. McGinnis said people often ask about two relics of the Spanish-American War: the cannon in Wright Park and the USS Maine artillery shell in Point Defiance Park. She also regularly fields inquiries about the Wright Park statues and the Pagoda in Point Defiance Park. Sometimes children call Metro Parks when writing reports for school. The archive may be a swift way to indulge this kind of curiosity.

The online inventory features Metro Parks’ historical structures, plus works of art, memorials and relics throughout the park district. “This is just the ‘Top 40’” McGinnis said. “Ultimately, there will be a couple of hundred entries.”

McGinnis spearheaded the inventory project, which was carried out by Claire Keller-Scholz, curator at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and curator of History and Art for Metro Parks Tacoma as well. Now that the first 40 entries are about to go online, Keller-Scholz has begun compiling the next 40.


The new online inventory is similar to an existing online catalog of Fort Nisqually Living History Museum's collections implemented by Keller-Scholz in 2014.

The premise behind both archives is the belief that people care about what they know.

“This will help people understand and appreciate all the great cultural resources Metro Parks has and its role in the development and history of Tacoma,” McGinnis said.

Click here to visit the online archive