The city of Tacoma has so many museums, it has its own museum district! From the Glass Museum to the Washington History Museum, there are plenty of options for a variety of history, art, and culture buffs. But the South Sound is also home to some quirky and unique museums as well.
Tacoma Telephone Pioneer Museum
It's the little-known museum that's truly off the hook. Located on the first floor of the downtown AT&T building, the Tacoma Telephone Pioneer Museum is run by volunteers. Retired telephone company employees like operator Carol Bartle.
"Sometimes they wanted to know the name of the garage down the street or how to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving," Bartle said. "Operators had to know everything and we did!"
Shady Lady Bordello Museum
At the Shady Lady in Centralia, antiques dealer Holly Phelps has opened a bordello museum. It celebrates the so-called "soiled doves," who actually worked in the second-floor rooms.
"When we share the museum, people are really interested in the history and the prettiness of the furniture pieces and things like that," Phelps said. "It doesn't change the fact that it was a sex business where they were marketing themselves to make a living, to hustle the dollar, to make ends meet. That's still the dark side of it."
LeMay Collections at Marymount
A visit to LeMay Collections is like going on a giant treasure hunt ... through your most eccentric neighbor's garage. If your neighbor owned thousands of cars that is.
When Harold LeMay died in 2000, his widow Nancy decided sharing the collection with the public was the best way to honor her husband.
He always said, 'I don't smoke. I don't drink. I only have one vice and that's vehicles and automobiles and trucks and whatever,'" Nancy said.
Pacific Bonsai Museum
At the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way, 35,000 visitors a year can see how horticulture and art transform trees from all over the world into miniature versions of themselves.
"A lot of people think bonsai is a type of tree, like a species, but in actuality, it's an art of cultivating any tree," curator Aarin Packard said.