As a student of the UW Museum Studies Certificate Program I’ve been volunteering at the James and Janie Washington Foundation for about 2 months. With my program now over, I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have found a practicum at a museum that keeps me constantly inspired by its mission, and excited to keep coming back. As a new student in the museum field, it is endlessly encouraging to be surrounded by motivated artists, to be a small part of Mr. Washington’s beautiful legacy, and to be around Tim Detweiler, executive director, for his constant enthusiasm about his museum and his great stories.
Sitting in the living room of the house, one photograph in particular has been grabbing my attention for the past two weeks. It’s a simple picture of Mr. Washington sitting in front of one of his sculptural fountains located in the Central District neighborhood as traffic and life pass by around him. However simple, the photo strikes me every time I enter the house. I think the photo, as well as Mr. Washington’s expression, says so much about who he was and what his foundation continuously strives to accomplish. The sculpture is on the corner of Union and 23rd, and was originally made as a meeting place for the community. He sits happily in front of the sculpture with a sweet, and unassuming demeanor.
The community is working to restore the sculpture and to restore the original idea of unity in an ever-changing neighborhood. The beauty and message of struggle and determination that the sculpture still brings to the neighborhood, long after his death, is moving. With the youth programs, exhibit tours, and artist in residency programs, the museum keeps Mr. Washington’s message alive and well and I’ve been honored to be part of it.