Whatcom Museum honors cornerstone member Joyce Morse with this unique library

The Joyce Morse Reference Library at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building offers books on art, architecture, ethnology and local history.
The Joyce Morse Reference Library at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building offers books on art, architecture, ethnology and local history. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Inside of the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building is a little treasure trove of a room that is often overlooked – the Joyce Morse Reference Library. The library contains a reference collection of more than 600 titles focusing on art and regional history that is accessible to Whatcom County community members and researchers, thanks to a partnership between the Whatcom Museum and the Bellingham Public Library.

Located on the second floor of the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., the library focuses on books about art and artists from the Pacific Northwest, Whatcom County history and the history and art of the native people of the Northwest Coast. Catalogues and other publications of the Whatcom Museum are also available. The library blends the museum’s existing collection of art and history books with art, architecture and decorative arts volumes donated by generous individuals in Bellingham and Seattle.

The library is named in honor of the late Joyce Morse, who was a cornerstone member of the Whatcom Museum, and for 20 years was responsible for organizing the volunteers at its store. She was involved in the fundraising effort to help restore the Old City Hall building from fire damage and co-chaired the group that raised the money to start the museum endowment to support artistic and educational programs and a longtime member of the Whatcom Museum’s volunteer group now known as the Advocates.

“We long wanted to make the Joyce Morse Reference Library a reality,” said museum Executive Director Patricia Leach. “I had a chance to talk about this project with Joyce not long before she died and she was so pleased. We’re delighted to honor her by offering this resource to the community.”

The books in the collection do not circulate, but are available to view in the Joyce Morse Reference Library by appointmentnoon to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The collection can also be searched online through the Bellingham Public Library’s catalog. Visit the library’s website and follow the homepage link to the Joyce Morse Reference Library catalog to search the collection.

To schedule an appointment, contact Shelley Halle at 360-778-8938 or email her at sahalle@cob.org.

Support the Whatcom Museum: Start 2018 off on the right foot at The Art Auction Gala, presented by Peoples Bank, at 5:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at the Lightcatcher building. Don’t miss this glittering evening of food, wine and silent and live auctions. Guests can bid on fine art, experience packages, selections from local businesses and more. As the Whatcom Museum’s largest fundraiser of the year, the gala is not only a fun and exciting event, but also provides vital funding for exhibitions and programming. Tickets, $125, are available at BrownPaperTickets.com.

Christina M. Claassen is Whatcom Museum’s marketing and public relations manager. Reach her at cmclaassen@cob.org.

Whatcom Museum

The non-profit Whatcom Museum is operated by the Whatcom Museum Foundation and the city of Bellingham. The Old City Hall building at 121 Prospect St. and the Lightcatcher Building at 250 Flora St. are open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays. The Family Interactive Gallery, located inside the Lightcatcher, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission, good for all sites in a day, is $10 general, $8 youth (6-17 years) and student, senior or military, $5 children (2-5 years). Memberships start at $50 and include free museum admission.

The museum offers a variety of programs and exhibitions about art, nature and Northwest history. Its collections contain more than 200,000 artifacts and art of regional importance, including a photographic archive. The museum is accredited nationally by the American Alliance of Museums and is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate.