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Museum Named Best Nonprofit in RentonRibbon

The Renton History Museum recently had the distinction of being named "Best Nonprofit 2016" in the Renton Reporter's Best of Renton 2016 competition. Winners were selected through an online nomination and voting process that reached out to readers of Renton's local newspaper. Past winners have included the Salvation Army, BECU, and YWCA South King County. We are very excited to have been recognized by Renton residents for the excellence of our community service. We believe the award is also a vote for the importance of heritage preservation and education in our community, and we'll continue to strive to live up to Rentonites' expectations. 

Renton History Museum Awarded a Building for Culture Grant  

Photo by Christina DePaolo

In November 2015 the Museum received a grant of $20,500 for a much-anticipated renovation of our Museum lobby. Combined with an allocation from Renton City Council, this grant enables the Museum to create a more logical, safe, attractive, and educational introduction to Renton’s rich history. The Museum was among 100 King County arts and heritage organizations that shared in an extraordinary $28M investment in cultural facilities. "A vibrant arts and cultural community is a hallmark of King County, something we are well known for nationally. The arts generate significant economic activity, provide a high quality of life for residents, inspire learning opportunities for youth, and attracts tourists," said King County Council Chair Larry Phillips at the bill-signing. "Through support of our arts and heritage organizations, we recognize the important role that these cultural experiences have in strengthening communities and developing young minds." This Building for Culture grant will make possible our first major renovation since Fire Station #1 was converted to a museum over 30 years ago. 

RenTeens Unveil a New Storefront ExhibitRenTeens exhibit

The Museum’s teen advisory council, the RenTeens, has completed work on their first exhibit, now installed in the storefront at 306 Williams Avenue South in Downtown Renton. The exhibit is titled Renton’s Changing Identity: How the Past and Present Come Together to Make Our City Home, and it explores the differences and similarities between Downtown Renton and The Landing. Cassie Dozier, Darius Felder, Elizabeth Galván, Oscar Locke, and Jenny Loo researched and wrote the exhibit, as well as selecting the photos and interviewing Renton movers and shakers. City of Renton Community Development Project Manager John Collum assisted in locating a storefront, and students installed the exhibit under the guidance of Public Engagement Coordinators Colleen Lenahan and Mark Mulder.
The RenTeens are currently developing their next project, and new students are welcome to join. Please contact Kim Owens by email or call 425.255.2330.

The F. W. Woolworth’s Building Now a National Historic Site


The Woolworth's Building - formerly Renton Western Wear - located at 724 S. Third St. in Downtown Renton is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The new building owners worked with the City of Renton and a consultant to complete the nomination in mid-2015; staff of the Renton History Museum provided research and photos to help document its historical significance. The building has also been added to the Washington State Register, making it the fifth Renton-area historic site. The Woolworth's building opened in 1954 as the first fully self-service Woolworth's in Washington State, and quickly became a significant commercial fixture of Downtown Renton

For more information on listing your historic building, go to this page.

 Past Projects  

Artifact Discoveries!Clare & Seema

Late in 2012 the Museum received a grant from 4Culture to inventory the artifacts stored on-site. The grant enabled the Museum to hire two interns from the University of Washington Museology program. Seema Gajria and Clare Tally-Foos work at the Museum two days a week poking through every box. Their internship lasts 10 weeks and throughout they will be publishing periodic blog posts about the interesting, perplexing, and sometimes even scary things they find.

January 25, 2013: Henry Moses' Coup Stick

February 19, 2013: Jayne's Expectorant

March 8, 2013: A Blast from the Past!

May 6, 2013: Brightly Colored and Well Worn

May 28, 2013: Contact Lenses

Museum Receives Grant to Digitize Audio and FilmFilm canisters

The Renton History Museum has received grants from 4Culture and The Next Curve to digitize its collection of audio-taped oral histories and its collection of visual media (8mm, 16mm, Super 8, and video tapes). These collections are rich with visual and aural information, but because of their fragility they cannot be easily accessed by researchers or used to enhance exhibits and other programs. Many of the visual media have never been seen since they were donated, including rare footage of Renton's short-lived Aire Faire festival. Oral histories have been collected since 1966 and include interviews with former Mayor Barbara Shinpoch, an audio tour of the mine sites with a former coal miner, and rare recordings of Duwamish songs.

In late 2012 the Museum completed the digitization of the oral history cassette tapes. Since then, staff has processed the collection and has now listened to all the recordings. We now share some of the highlights of our discoveries in these blog posts:

January 15, 2013: A Fourth Generation Dairy Farmer

January 22, 2013: Oral History Through Song

January 29, 2013: All In The Family

February 5, 2013: Pioneer of Firsts

February 12, 2013: Inverted Triangle

UPDATE: The film collection has been digitized byMcKenna Video Services for digitization. The film is in the process of being cataloged.

Museum Receives 4Culture Collections Care Grant to Digitize Oversize Photographs 

4Culture logoThe Renton History Museum was the proud recipient of a 4Culture Heritage Collections Care Grant for 2010! The Museum received funding to complete the cataloging of the entire Photograph Collection. The portion of the collection left to catalog consists of all oversize photographs, numbering about 650. 

The Museum’s Photograph Collection is the single most frequently used segment of the collection, by other museums, researchers, staff, and the public. The completion of this project will make these 650 “new” photographs available to those groups. The oversize photographs represent important Renton industries such as coal mining, clay and coal processing, and logging.  A significant number of photos also show Renton schools and students.  With the completion of these 650 photographs, all 14,500 of our historic photos will be catalogued and searchable from the Museum’s computers, with thumbnail scans available for viewing.

Read more about the project here:

May 20, 2011: Greggs Family with Bear, 1918

May 6, 2011: Renton Baseball Club, 1902

April 22, 2011: Lindbergh High School Cheer Squad, 1988-1989

April 8, 2011: Winner at Longacres Racetrack

March 25, 2011: Washington Lumber and Spar Company

March 3, 2011: Coal Miners of the New Diamond Mine

February 25, 2011: Denny-Renton Clay & Coal Co.

February 11, 2011: 1939 School Patrol

January 21, 2011: Williams family portrait

January 6, 2011: Ditlevsen & Mitchell (meats) and Higdon's Grocery

December 16, 2010: 1974-1975 City Parks & Recreation Basketball League  

December 2, 2010:  Renton High School Band, 1920

November 5, 2010: Coal Miners' Faces  

Renton History Museum Welcomes Back Its Newly Reconstructed Coal Car

Completed coal car at CRCAfter eight months of research and hard work, the historic reconstruction of our coal car is complete!  The project, funded by 4Culture, came to an end on August 26th when the coal car returned to Renton from the Conservation and Restoration Center of the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie.  Renton History Museum staff and volunteers installed the coal car in the Museum's main gallery as an integral part of the When Coal Was King coal mining exhibit.  Having been reconstructed and even correctly reengineered in some areas, the coal car now serves as a tangible reminder of Renton's coal mining roots.

The rescue of the coal car is the result of a constructive partnership between the Renton History Museum and the Northwest Railway Museum.  When we discovered in late 2007 that our coal car had seriously deteriorated, we called upon the skills and knowledge of the NRM staff to help us return the car to its original shape.  Thanks to grant funding, NRM staff was able to restore information about how coal cars were designed, built, and used in the mines by properly reconstructing its physical characteristics.  You can revisit the progress of the project on the updates below, and see more photos at the Museum's Flickr album.

 Read more about the project here:Coal car arrives at RHM

January 25, 2008

February 11, 2008

February 25, 2008

March 10, 2008

March 14, 2008

April 8, 2008

May 20, 2008

May 30, 2008

June 2, 2008

July 16, 2008


Project Partners:

RHM logo          NWRM logo


Grant Funding Provided By:

 4Culture logo