Chris Fiala Erlich Curates Exhibit of Early Gig Harbor Peninsula Churches

gig harbor history
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Cromwell, c. 1910 Photo courtesy: Harbor History Museum


Submitted by City of Gig Harbor

gig harbor history
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Cromwell, c. 1910
Photo courtesy: Harbor History Museum

The Harbor History Museum announces the opening of the first exhibit of 2014, Going to the Chapel:  Faith, Fellowship, and Friction on the Gig Harbor Peninsula. The exhibit will run January 11 through April 13, 2014.

This in-house created exhibit of the Harbor History Museum will showcase the history of the early peninsula churches. Ceremonies and celebrations, youth and adult programs, and even the challenges within the communities between the different religious convictions will be explored and discussed. Visitors will also learn about Edna Hunt, wife of steamboat captain Arda Hunt, who was instrumental in the birth of three Peninsula churches. Artifacts, photographs, and video will tell the story of our religious history from the early 1900s to 1970s.

The Going to the Chapel exhibit was a labor of love for a dedicated group of community members and volunteers who have met and worked on the exhibit for several months. The committee collaborated with Guest Curator, Chris Fiala Erlich to bring the exhibit to life. Ms. Erlich has been an independent exhibit curator for more than a decade, doing exhibit development, design, and fabrication. Her exhibits have earned awards from the Washington State Historical Society, the Washington Museum Association, and the American Association for State and Local History. Ms. Erlich is also the past Executive Director of the Harbor History Museum (known then as the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Museum) and the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center. Today, in addition to her freelance exhibit work, she is the event coordinator and exhibit curator at Fort Nisqually.

“I’m delighted to be back at the museum, and to be contributing to this effort,” says Erlich. “It has been rewarding to put together the pieces of early church development on the Peninsula. Church communities and church buildings played an important role in helping the area’s new residents – immigrants from Europe and transplants from the Midwest and East Coast — form common bonds.”   

On January 16, there will be a special exhibit-related Tea and Tour museum presentation that will go in-depth and behind-the scenes of Going to the Chapel. The tour will be hosted by Ms. Erlich.  She will provide interesting facts and mysteries that go beyond the public exhibit. The Tea and Tour is on Thursday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m. The event is free for members and admission plus $1 for non-members.

The Harbor History Museum, a nonprofit organization, opened in 1973 and moved to its current waterfront location in Gig Harbor in 2009. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and share the history of Gig Harbor. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, except major holidays. Call 253-858-6722 or visit for more information about the exhibit, presentation, or museum.


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