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News / Life / Clark County Life

Explore the marvels of Maryhill Museum of Art

Gorge museum kicks off season with celebration

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 17, 2017, 6:07am
8 Photos
The Maryhill Museum of Art, near Goldendale, is a stunning spot on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. The exhibits inside the building are pretty stunning, too.
The Maryhill Museum of Art, near Goldendale, is a stunning spot on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. The exhibits inside the building are pretty stunning, too. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

No museum could be cooler to get trapped inside overnight, when — as we know — all the artworks leap to life and party hardy, as only living artworks can. That’s because no museum’s collection is a crazier quilt than the Maryhill Museum of Art.

Entry level: Royal Romanian furniture, sculpture and religious icons; Art Nouveau and Art Deco glassworks; Victorian and modern paintings from Europe and America; historic photos and films of road- and museum-builder Sam Hill.

Upstairs: “Theatre de la Mode,” a collection of miniature Parisian fashion mannequins; children’s art room; and this year’s special exhibitions, including newly acquired paintings and prints, landscapes of the American West and ancient Greek ceramics.

Downstairs: International chess sets; sculptures by Rodin; films of influential modern dancer Loïe Fuller; and Native American artifacts of every era.

If You Go

 What: Maryhill Museum  of Art

 When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Nov. 15.

 Where:35 Maryhill Museum Drive, Goldendale.

 Admission:$9; $8 for seniors; $3 for youth age 7-18; family admission $25. Annual membership: $50.

 Information: www.maryhillmuseum.org, 509-773-3733.

Opening Celebration

Featuring: Maryhill Winery pourings, hors d’oeuvres, live jazz, dancing.

 When: 5-8 p.m. March 18.

 Cost: $45 for nonmembers, $35 for members.

 Reservations: 509-773-3733, ext. 20.

Did You Know?

 Sam Hill wanted to build a modern highway on the north side of the Columbia River, but the state of Washington didn’t back the idea — so Hill threw his support behind a road on the Oregon side. That’s what became the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Outside: Sculpture garden, scenic lookouts and a cafe terrace with heavenly views of the Columbia River Gorge. Up the road: a full-sized recreation of Stonehenge. Yes, that Stonehenge — the ancient British monument.

Dancing with the stars

The Maryhill Museum of Art, 100 miles east of Vancouver on state Highway 14, opened its doors for the 2017 season on March 15– but the afternoon of March 18 is its official opening celebration. No need to get stuck there overnight; the art will come to life via free guided gallery talks and even tours of the rooftop, where you can admire the building’s recent stucco restoration project.

But if you do feel like staying late, Maryhill’s got you covered the evening of March 18 with wine pourings, hors d’oeuvres and danceable tunes from the Underwood Jazz Society with Mike Stillman and Friends. That runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

Later in the season, on the night of July 15, you’ll be able to stay overnight at last — but not inside the building. Maryhill hosts an annual overnight campout and stargazing party, complete with telescopes provided by the Rose City Astronomers and expert guidance from Troy Carpenter of the nearby Goldendale Observatory. It’s $60 to reserve a spot for your tent or RV; all members of your party also get free museum admission. Fires and cooking are not permitted. Simply stargazing on the grounds that night is free.

You could make a whole day of it July 15 by taking in dance before you take in the stars. Gonzaga University instructor Suzanne Ostersmith and her students will celebrate the legacy of modern dancer Loïe Fuller in outdoor afternoon performances, discussions and films.

Fuller is one of the many unlikely stars of the Maryhill scene. She was a Francophone friend of Sam Hill, the legendary roadbuilder and Quaker eccentric who wanted to create a massive utopian community on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. But the lack of a highway and the financial stress of World War I stymied his vision, and Hill’s unfinished mansion languished until Fuller convinced him to make it into a museum — an outpost for French culture in the Pacific Northwest.

Hill didn’t live to see that project finished. He died in 1931; the Maryhill Museum opened in 1940. But he did see his hatred of war boldly expressed: that full-sized recreation of Stonehenge, still standing on a bluff a few miles east of the museum, is a monumental memorial to Klickitat County casualties of World War I.

Stuffed season

The Maryhill season is stuffed full of special outings and events for artists, art lovers and Gorge explorers. Some are free, others cost museum admission or a special charge; check the website for details. Here’s a sample:

• Tango lessons, dancing: 6 p.m., last Saturday of every month.

• Two-day digital photography workshop: April 2 and April 9.

• Print and American expansion: Talk by art historian Matt Johnston, 2 p.m. June 3.

• Focus on Romania: 12-3 p.m. June 24.

• Loïe Fuller in the Garden, 1 p.m. July 15.

• Starry Night at the Museum, 5 p.m.-overnight, July 15.

• The art of travel sketching, 2 p.m. Aug. 26.

• Poetry and visual arts, 2 p.m. September 23.

• “Car Is King” weekend: Oct. 7, classic car show and access to the Maryhill Loops Road; Oct. 8, vintage sports car race.

Also, Maryhill offers rolling “free county” weekends for every county in Washington state. On Aug. 19 and 20, you can enjoy free museum admission — just for living in Clark County!