One of the most unique museums in the Pacific Northwest is also the only one of its kind in the world. Visit John’s Beachcombing Museum in Forks, WA and explore a fascinating collection of lost, discarded, then rediscovered items.
John Anderson began collecting glass floats from area beaches in the 1970’s. These floats were once used to keep fishing nets and lines afloat and were almost common on some beaches. As anyone who has ever beachcombed can tell you, you never know WHAT you’ll find on the beach. Consequently, the longer John continued beachcombing, the more diverse and expansive his collection became.
Zoom forward to 2015, some 40 years after he began the hobby. The collection of found items has become so massive, so fascinating, that a friend suggests he open a museum, a first of its kind. Well, why not?
Thus world’s first – and only – beachcombing museum was born.
Flotsam, Jetsam, Messages in Bottles & More
John’s Beachcombing Museum is located just outside Forks, WA in a large, 2-level warehouse. His treasures have been carefully organized and many are labeled for clarity. Some have even been worked into found object art pieces.
The sheer volume of and diverse nature of the items collected will bowl you over. Bits of plastic, interesting rocks, shells, and driftwood you might expect – but multiple severed doll heads? Unopened beverage cans? The spinner cone form a Boeing 727 engine?
You just never know what’s going to end up on the beach. Ships sink, humans litter, tsunamis occur, and ocean currents busily shuffle the buoyant results around the globe.
Speaking of buoys, over 25,000 of them are on display at the museum. Hundreds hav been worked into a colorful totem pole on the museum’s front lawn. A notebook inside the museum contains letters sent by sea in bottles, most of which John has answered. A wall of discarded Suntory whiskey bottles confirms the presence of the Japanese Navy on the waves.
You’ll see the hulls of boats, a grey whale skull, dozens of tennis shoes from a container spill, and so much more. One of the most moving displays is the collection of items that washed ashore from Japan’s 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
John’s Beachcombing Museum
143 Andersonville Avenue, Forks, WA 98331
Open daily from June to August, 10am to 5pm, and by appointment the rest of the year: 360-640-0320. Learn more on the museum’s Facebook page.
The museum is an easy 15 minute drive from Manitou Lodge, just up La Push Road to Forks. Take a right on Highway 101 and the museum is just a short way down the street on your right – you can’t miss the big sign.