The Makah Museum, in Neah Bay, WA, is internationally recognized as one of the nation’s finest tribal museums. The museum’s fascinating collection of pre-contact Makah artifacts is unrivaled and well worth your time.
The Makah are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest. The tribe’s traditional lands, now the Makah reservation, are located on the northernmost tip of the Olympic Peninsula.
Pre-contact, the Makah held a vast area of land, bordered by the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. The tribe had many settlements, including five permanent villages with communities numbering well into the thousands. Each village was home to several longhouses, as well.
In fact, it was the stunning find of recently unearthed, centuries old longhouses that spurred the creation of the Makah Museum.
A Buried Ozette Village
In 1969, a hiker stumbled across a treasure trove of Makah artifacts recently unearthed by storm erosion. The artifacts were part of a Makah village that had been partially buried by a mudslide some 500 years ago. Interestingly, Makah oral history told of this “great slide” at Ozette – and here was the direct evidence!
The find was unprecedented and stunning: six longhouses and their contents, preserved in the mud. An 11-year excavation followed, producing over 55,000 artifacts, all of which remained with the Makah, becoming the foundation of the Makah Museum.
Visiting The Museum
The Makah Museum (aka the Makah Cultural and Research Center) remains the only place in the world where you can see the finds from the Ozette Archaeological Site.
The exhibits feature some 500+ artifacts that illustrate Makah history and their traditional way of life. You’ll see stunning examples of preserved whaling and fishing implements, combs, baskets, and replicas of cedar dugout canoes. There’s even a full-size replica of a traditional Makah longhouse!
The museum includes fascinating temporary exhibits and maintains an Ethnobotanical Garden containing local plants important to the Makah. Demonstrations and workshops at the museum reveal the secrets of traditional Makah weaving and carving. Skills still in use by the Tribe today.
The museum also offers guided tours, both of the museum and external sites, such as the Cape Flattery Trail and the Ozette Archaeological Site.
Don’t forget to stop by the museum Gift Shop for genuine Makah carvings, basketry, and jewelry. You’ll also find a wide selection of prints, books and cards.
1880 Bayview Ave, Neah Bay, Washington 98357
The museum is open to the public 7 days per week from 10am to 5pm. It is closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can also visit the museum online.
Neah Bay is a little over an hour’s drive from Manitou Lodge but the area’s packed with attractions. We’ve mentioned the Cape Flattery Trail and Shi Shi Beach before but even adding in the Museum only scratches the surface of all there is to see and do in the area.
Turn your visit to the Museum into a day-trip and discover one of the most amazingly beautiful spots on earth!