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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.

The Museum of Culture and Environment is closed for the summer. We look forward to an exciting academic year of exhibits and events beginning late September, 2019.

Current Exhibitions

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)

Olivia Bode ('19, History/Religious Studies) studies a Russian icon in consultation with Dr. Volha Isakava (Department of World Languages and Cultures) and Dr. Roxanne Easley (Department of History).

Upcoming Events

Thursday Oct. 3 at 5:30 PM

Opening Reception: Telling Secrets

Please join the MCE as we open three new exhibitions to the public on Oct. 3 at 5:30 PM. In the main gallery, viewers will see Telling Secrets, which features the paintings and stories of well-known Ellensburg artist Jane Orleman, who addresses her experiences of childhood sexual violence and other forms of domestic abuse. This exhibit is a form of therapy and medicine, wherein Orleman confronts the past, accepts her emotions, and imagines a healing future. We will also be recognizing the new Window on Central display, Monkeys Do . . . We Do Too?, which showcases the research of CWU primatologists who studied Tibetan Macaques at Mt. Huangshan, China. And finally, Shattering the Veil: A Reclamation of Female Indigenous Identity is a photography exhibit located in the MCE lobby, curated by CWU student Autumn Adams (Yakama Nation). Shattering the Veil invites viewers to examine how Indigenous women use culture to empower themselves in spaces of oppression. Thursday’s reception will include light refreshments and a few words of acknowledgment to honor the curators, artists, and researchers who made each exhibition possible.


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 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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