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Museum of Culture and Environment

College of the Sciences

The Museum of Culture and Environment approaches our diverse and changing world with an interdisciplinary perspective, examining human life, culture, and our interaction with the environment. The Museum is located in Dean Hall on the Central Washington University campus.

Current Exhibitions

Telling Secrets: An Artist's Personal Journey Through Family Trauma

The Museum is sharing a powerful exhibit of Jane Orleman​'s work this Fall Quarter. This exhibit bears witness to a personal story of domestic violence, including physical, sexual, and verbal assault.  Some paintings depict injury and/or nudity. Art is emotionally powerful and you may experience many different reactions.

Shattering the Veil: Reclaiming Female Indigenous Identities (Dean Hall Lobby)

Monkeys Do... We Do Too? Studying Tibetan Macaques in the Valley of the Wild Monkeys (Window on Central)

Poster for Telling Secrets.

Upcoming Events


Saturday Oct. 19 from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Portraits of the Inner Self: Expressive Arts with Nan Doolittle

This quarter the MCE features the powerful exhibition Telling Secrets, in which artist Jane Orleman tells the story of how, through therapy and art, she came to terms with her childhood experiences of sexual abuse and domestic violence by revisiting her memories and coming to understand her inner self. Lik­­­­e Jane, you are invited to engage in an artistic dialogue with your inner self in a workshop led by Nan Doolittle, Certified Expressive Arts practitioner. Perhaps you will be inspired to make a creative piece that tells a secret you want to express (even if you only express it to yourself). Or perhaps you will make a secret hideaway, a place of healing and safety. You may want to bring a memento, such as a photograph or an object for inspiration. Using the language of art—symbol, image, movement, balance, texture, light, color—you will consider your inner life. This is not a workshop for enhancing artistic techniques but rather for encouraging us to listen to ourselves.


Monday Oct. 28 at 5:30 PM (Ofrenda from Oct. 28 – Nov. 2)

Day of the Dead Procession and Celebration

Please join the MCE on Oct. 28 at 5:30 PM as we put together an ofrenda, an altar for Day of the Dead. You will be able to make papel picado (perforated paper) and calaveras (sugar skulls).  And you are welcome to bring photos of loved ones who have passed away, as well as small offerings. Following this, on the evening of Nov 2, a Day of the Dead procession will begin—moving from Dean Hall lobby to the larger ofrenda in the SURC, sponsored by the Diversity and Equity Center. Even if you cannot contribute to the ofrenda at the MCE, you are still welcome on the night of the procession, when we will continue to welcome photos of loved ones who have passed away, as well as small offerings.


Thursday November 7 at 5:30 PM

Museums Sites of Healing, Co-Curation, Restorative Placemaking

Mark Auslander, Ph.D., serves as director of the Michigan State University Museum (MSUM) and is an associate professor of Anthropology and History at Michigan State University (MSU, East Lansing, Michigan) . Dr. Auslander directed the CWU Museum of Culture and Environment from 2011-17. When he arrived at MSU in mid-2017, the community was shaken by the largest sexual abuse scandal in the history of American higher education, centered on crimes perpetrated by a university sports physician over a three-decade period. Over the past 18 months, Dr. Auslander and his museum colleagues have partnered with sister-survivors of this crisis, to create a collaboratively co-curated exhibition “Finding our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak.” In this presentation Dr. Auslander reflects on lessons learned about trauma-informed exhibition development, and how responsible community co-curation can help engage individuals and communities in vital healing journeys. How should museums responsibly partner in giving voice to survivors of gender-based and sexual violence in ways that are respectful and empowering for diverse survivors and their allies?


Thursday Nov. 14  at 5:30 PM

“Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists” featuring Mayumi Tsutakawa

Writer Mayumi Tsutakawa presents five “woman warriors” in the arts and journalism whose inspiring stories reach back to the early years of our region.   Meet the pioneering photographer Imogen Cunningham, Black American jazz musician Ruby Bishop, Chinese American artist Priscilla Chong Jue, Leftist journalist Anna Louise Strong, and Native American linguist Vi Hilbert. Drawing on her own experience as an activist and writer, she explores how these women inspired others and changed our state and our society.


Thursday Dec. 5 at 5:30 PM

“Animals at Play”: A Talk by Dr. Jessica Mayhew

Since 2003, CWU primatologists (including Dr. Sofia K. Blue, Dr. Jessica Mayhew, Dr. Lori Sheeran, Dr. Lixing Sun, and Dr. Steve Wagner) have been partnering with primatologists at Anhui University in China in order to expand scientific knowledge about some of our closest relatives, Tibetan macaques. One of these researchers, Dr. Jessica Mayhew, studied how young macaques play. Join the MCE on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 PM as Mayhew explores play in animals of all kinds (including humans!): Why do animals play? How do you know when an animal is “playing”? Do animals only play when they are young? And what kinds of play exist?      

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