New feature: Washington's regional museums offer rich repositories of history that help connect us to where we live. These often-overlooked treasures hold...

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NEW FEATURE: Washington’s regional museums offer rich repositories of history that help connect us to where we live. These often-overlooked treasures hold remnants of the not-so-distant past, when natural and human events shaped the geography and culture of our region. Today we begin a monthly column to encourage you to get out and explore local museums.

Museum location: 918 H St. S.E., Auburn.

Permanent displays: This good-sized museum tells the “extraordinary history of ordinary people” of South King County. Using the words, photos and artifacts of real people who lived during those times, displays reveal the stories of the ancestors of the Muckleshoot Tribe, the white settlers, and the loggers, farmers and railroad men who lived in the area from the 1850s through the 20th century.

Examine an Indian dugout canoe loaded for a trading trip down the White River, stride across the wooden floors of an 1890s cabin relocated from Kent’s East Hill, select a new hat from the 1920s millinery shop on old Main Street, peer in the kitchen window of an Issei (first-generation Japanese) family’s farmhouse and dream of riding the rails while sprawled on the bunk of a reconstructed 1924 caboose.

Temporary exhibits: Now through Aug. 28, don’t miss a rare chance to see more than 50 extraordinary baskets, focusing solely on those made in Western Washington. Owned by four private collectors, most of these have never been displayed in public. Although most are more than 100 years old, they are in remarkable condition.

Until recently, most Native American baskets were made by women, and individual artists owned their patterns and technique secrets. As iron and wood containers brought by white settlers baskets as storage and cooking vessels, baskets were then created to trade for cash. The once-utilitarian objects became collectibles, which helped to preserve both their individual artistry and the art of basket weaving.

Other highlights: Find out how Washington’s Treaty Wars erupted here in 1855, and why the Green River took over the original channel of the White River. On the museum Web site, listen to words pronounced in Whulshootseed, the complex language (currently being revived) spoken by the ancestors of the Muckleshoot Tribe.

Special events: Frequent family-oriented events include a model-train show coming Sept. 10-11

Hours: Wednesdays through Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.

Admission: $2 for adults, $1 for children and seniors. Free admission on Wednesdays.

Directions: From Highway 18 in Auburn, take the Auburn Way/Enumclaw/164E exit, get in the far left lane, and turn left off the exit ramp onto Auburn Way South. In a quarter of a mile (just after the Dairy Queen), turn left on F Street Southeast, take the first right on Ninth Street Southeast, and then turn right on H Street Southeast.

Bus: Metro routes 150 and 915 pass near the museum. More info: 206-553-3000 or

For more information: 253-288-7433 or

— Cathy McDonald, special to The Seattle Times