“Grand Coulee to Grunge” exhibit celebrates Washington achievements

“Grand Coulee to Grunge” exhibit celebrates Washington achievements


Secretary Wyman speaks about the new exhibit during its launch event at the Capitol. (Photo courtesy of Benjamin Helle) 

Going back to statehood nearly 125 years ago, people here have had good reason to be proud of our fellow Washingtonians who’ve reached extraordinary heights and worldwide fame in their fields.

Now, Washington residents and visitors to Olympia can learn more about our many global triumphs by seeing our office’s new exhibit that officially launched Wednesday afternoon with a well-attended public reception at the State Capitol.

“Grand Coulee to Grunge: Eight stories that changed the world” is an image-driven exhibit that recounts feats in business, science, technology and music with influence around the globe.


Krist Novoselic points to a photo of himself and Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain. (Photo courtesy of Lori Larson)

Secretary of State Kim Wyman kicked off the launch event in the Rotunda by recounting many of the key accomplishments that have put Washington on the map globally over the years.

“Washington’s story is big and it is everywhere. How many states can claim they built the ‘biggest thing on earth’? How many can say they helped put man on the moon? Ushered in passenger air travel? Helped build the American West? Changed how we communicate across the world?

“Washington is filled with innovative people who believe in change, who invest in the future, and who refuse to accept defeat. It’s our heritage. It’s always been our heritage.”

Other speakers at the public reception were:
•Retired Wenatchee World publisher Wilfred Woods.
• Matt McCormick, Hanford Site Manager, U.S. Department of Energy
• U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (8th Congressional District)
• State Rep. Gael Tarleton from Seattle’s 36th Legislative District
• Musician and activist Krist Novoselic

Other attendees included former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton, 28th District state Rep. Dick Muri and first lady Trudi Inslee.

UPDATE: You can watch the exhibit launch event on TVW, which is airing it Friday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m. The station also will have the event available to view online.

The free, privately funded exhibit spotlights eight stories that influenced the world:


One of the panels of the new exhibit in the Office of Secretary of State’s front lobby.

Building the Future looks at Weyerhaeuser’s rise into a timber empire.

Created the “Eighth Wonder” is about the building of the Grand Coulee Dam and how it revolutionized Washington agriculture by bringing irrigation to a parched Eastern Washington, provided cheap hydroelectric power and aided in the production of aluminum for Boeing aircraft used in World War II.

Ended the War reviews the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s quiet yet vital role in providing plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping end World War II.

Introduced Air Travel spotlights Boeing’s central role in aerospace and its contributions to world air travel, as well as its role in the creation of the Saturn V rocket that literally launched several Apollo missions to the moon.

Feeding the Globe tells how Washington’s agriculture industry grew to become a worldwide leader in the export of apples, wheat, potatoes, wine and other first-class products.

Exporting the Culture is about innovative companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco and Amazon.com that have become known globally.

Rocked the Planet takes viewers back to various times when Washington musicians reached stardom and legendary status, from crooner Bing Crosby to famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana, which exploded onto the rock music scene in the early 1990s and helped make grunge a household word.

Wired the World looks at how Bill Gates and Paul Allen formed Microsoft and transformed it into a computer software colossus that helped connect the world and created thousands of “Microsoft millionaires” in Washington alone.

The exhibit will be displayed in the office lobby on the second floor of the Legislative Building for one year before it travels to heritage organizations statewide.

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