"Foss Waterway Seaport Museum" Top 5 Page for this destination Tacoma Off The Beaten Path Tip by glabah

Tacoma Off The Beaten Path: 57 reviews and 241 photos

  entrance to Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
by glabah
  • entrance to Foss Waterway Seaport Museum - Tacoma
      entrance to Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
    by glabah
  • some of the interesting displays not for public - Tacoma
      some of the interesting displays not for public
    by glabah
  • wood shop: boats under construction and repair - Tacoma
      wood shop: boats under construction and repair
    by glabah
  • one of two known Foss boats started corproration - Tacoma
      one of two known Foss boats started corproration
    by glabah
  • steam powered launch on display in museum - Tacoma
      steam powered launch on display in museum
    by glabah

The eventual goal of the museum is to create a fairly extensive museum and activity area that celebrates the active waterfront and port, both history and current, of Tacoma.

However, the present reality is that there are times when this is not necessarily an exceptionally interesting place to visit. A great deal depends on the temporary exhibits and the activity in the boat building and repair shop.

I honestly would have put this museum in the "Tourist Trap" category if it weren't for the fact that the $6 admission price is well worth it, IF there is a spectacular display of some sort in the huge back room of the museum - and sometimes there is. The day I visited, there wasn't. Or, if there is a lot of activity in the wood shop that repairs and builds boats, it would also be worth visiting at that price, but the day I visited there wasn't.

There were some neat items on display here. For example, on short term loan to the museum was a steam powered automobile and companion steam powered launch.

Along with the wood shop, where boats are repaired and built, there is an engine restoration facility, and when I was there they happened to have a number of historic gasoline engines on display and taken aprart for repair, and allowing the visitor to see the insides of the engine.

Perhaps the most historic craft in the collection of the museum is a simple wooden rowboat, which was built by the Foss family as part of their rental and sales fleet. This boat leasing and building venture was what launched the company that is today the Foss Marine Company.

I was told that many of the exhibits here, except for the "front room" area, change on a pretty regular basis, so it is quite likely that very little of what was on display when I visited will be on display when you visit. The basic nature of the displays will most likely be similar.

There is a children's play and discovery area, and it seemed to be pretty popular with the children. However, a great deal of what is there is labeled with signs that people have to read, and unfortunately I have to wonder just how many children these days would be that interested in taking the time to read such signs. I don't wish to make it sound exceptionally boring, as there are some good displays there and models of sea creatures, but the kids will get a lot more out of the displays if they are patient enough to read what the displays say.

Some of the more interesting artifacts in the museum, unfortunately, seemed to be stuck in the meeting rooms and board rooms. It is possible to see these items through the open doors, but entering the rooms are not allowed by the general public.

The Future

However unimpressed I was with the museum, there are some big plans to turn this into a very significant attraction for Tacoma, and if even a fraction of the effort comes to pass this could be a very good museum. Efforts are supposedly underway to make required upgrades (including seismic upgrades) to the building, and as time goes on there are big plans for what goes on inside the museum.

Every year, there is a "tall ships festival" and a few other maritime shows that take place around the museum, and expect there to be a lot more worthwhile displays in here during these special events than on the day I visited.

Website: http://www.fosswaterwayseaport.org/

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 27, 2010
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