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HARBOR HISTORY MUSEUM ANNOUNCES STARS & STRIPES

Gig Harbor, WA; September 2, 2010Opening special exhibition explores America’s icon drawn from the collection of renowned graphic designer Kit Hinrichs at Gig Harbor’s new, waterfront museum, from Sept. 18, 2010 through Jan. 16, 2011

 

When the Harbor History Museum opens on September. 18, Stars & Stripes: A captivating collection of America’s icon, will be its first special exhibition. The announcement was made today by Jennifer Kilmer, Executive Director of Gig Harbor’s dynamic, 15,000-square foot, waterfront museum.

 

“From Civil War-era flags to jewelry, toys, and political memorabilia,” remarked Kilmer, “this wide ranging collection of items will fascinate, inspire and educate visitors of all ages.”

 

Drawn from world-renowned graphic designer Kit Hinrichs’ collection of over 5,000 American flags and flag-related objects, Stars and Stripes presents America’s icon from a unique perspective as a national brand, a logo and a symbol that is filled with emotion and levels of meaning that change with the political and cultural climate of our times.

 

“I am fascinated by the many forms the Stars and Stripes has taken over the decades,” offered Hinrichs [link to: http://www.harborhistorymuseum.org/file_viewer.php?id=607 ]. “I have found flags molded in Jell-O, carved in tree trunks, etched in granite, and sprinkled with glitter. Through this parade of objects and imagery, I’ve learned about the social milieus from which the various flag interpretations emerged. It is not just the flag as a designed object that has intrigued me; it is the rich history that surrounds it.”

 

Running through Jan. 16, 2011, Stars & Stripes is the first in the museum’s ongoing series of special exhibitions [link to: http://www.harborhistorymuseum.org/exhibits/special-exhibitions/]. Following will be An Excellent Little Bay: The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842, which will open on Jan. 29 and run through May 29, 2011, followed by a GigFest Maritime Art Exhibition – June 4 through July 3, 2011.

 

 

In addition to the Special Exhibitions Gallery, the museum features the Annelise and Warder Stokes Permanent Gallery; the Rev. Charles F. Schreiner Showcase Gallery; the one-room Midway Schoolhouse; the Jim and Carolyn Milgard Maritime Gallery with the 65-foot commercial fishing vessel Shenandoah and the first Thunderbird sailboat; the Daylight Gallery, spotlighting the region’s Native American heritage and more. Designed to engage visitors of all ages, the museum has created living history programs, interactive exhibits and hands-on activities.

 

Located at 4121 Harborview Drive, between Donkey Creek Park and the Gig Harbor bay, the Harbor History Museum will be open weekdays from 10AM to 5PM, Tuesday through Sunday. Regular admission is $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors and military, and $4.00 for children age 7 to 17. Children 6 years of age and younger are admitted for free. Additional information regarding the museum, its exhibits, programming and grand opening activities are posted on http://www.harborhistorymuseum.org. For information on Gig Harbor, please access www.gigharborguide.com.

 

Formerly Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society, Harbor History Museum was founded in 1963, and opened as a museum in 1973.  The mission of the museum is to create opportunities to experience the heritage of the greater Gig Harbor communities. It does this by collecting, preserving, and sharing this area’s history.  

 

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Collector’s Statement:

My family’s only heirloom was a tattered and patched thirty-six-star Civil War flag sewn by my great-great-great aunt, Ida Peppercorn, in 1865. When I was in first grade, my mom allowed me to take this keepsake to school for show-and-tell; it was my proudest moment that year. Decades later, my parents asked me to be the family caretaker of this coveted flag, and I hung it prominently in my first New York apartment.

My interest in the Stars and Stripes could have ended there but, as a designer, creating graphic symbols is an important aspect of my work. The American flag was a symbol I couldn’t leave alone. Designers are continually challenged to come up with visual icons that evoke immediate recognition, emotional power, and universal meaning. By any standard, the American flag has brand value that every designer would envy. 

But the American flag is not only a recognizable symbol. It is also one to which everyone, not only Americans, has a personal and often visceral response. Over the past two hundred years, people have expressed their feelings toward the United States through its flag. They have used it to legitimize their causes, whether products or political campaigns.   

When I view my collection as a whole, I am fascinated by the many forms the Stars and Stripes has taken over the decades. I have found flags molded in Jell-O, carved in tree trunks, etched in granite, and sprinkled with glitter. Through this parade of objects and imagery, I’ve learned about the social milieus from which the various flag interpretations emerged. It is not just the flag as a designed object that has intrigued me; it is the rich history that surrounds it, too.

For me, the collector’s passion is in the joy of discovery—in sorting through piles of stuff at antique fairs and flea markets and finally unearthing a new and wonderful iteration of the Stars and Stripes; in learning about how people lived and thought in another time; and in deepening my appreciation of the independent spirit and resourcefulness of the true “designers” of the flag, the American people.

 

– Kit Hinrichs