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January 03, 2024

Project Spotlight – The Whatcom Museum

The Whatcom Museum is an important cultural institution in Bellingham, offering both historical and contemporary perspectives on the Pacific Northwest. It serves as a hub for the community, providing educational resources and cultural enrichment through its exhibits, programs, and events. The museum consists of three buildings: the Old City Hall, the Lightcatcher building, and the Syre Education Center. Each building offers a unique experience and showcases various aspects of art and regional history. The museum’s collections cover a wide range of topics, including regional art, history, and culture. Exhibits may include works by local artists, artifacts related to the history of the area, and interactive displays aimed at engaging visitors in the exploration of the region’s heritage.

The Whatcom Museum’s story begins with the Old City Hall building. Constructed in 1892, it served as Bellingham’s city hall until 1939. The building reflects Romanesque architecture and has historical significance as one of the oldest municipal buildings in the region. In 1941, the building became home to the Whatcom Museum, showcasing exhibits on local history and culture. Over the years, the museum expanded its offerings and outgrew the Old City Hall space. In 2009, the museum opened the Lightcatcher building, a modern and architecturally striking structure adjacent to the Old City Hall. The Lightcatcher building focuses on contemporary art and features a large translucent wall designed to capture natural light. Visitors to the Whatcom Museum can experience a blend of historical and contemporary perspectives, making it a significant cultural institution in Bellingham.

After years of exposure to various weather conditions, and because of the natural aging process, the windows of the Old City Hall building needed to be replaced. Restoration is important because it helps to preserve cultural heritage, maintain architectural integrity, promote sustainability, support economic development, provide educational opportunities, and contribute to community identity. Successful restoration projects contribute to the cultural enrichment of communities and the preservation of architectural heritage.

Part of the restoration of the building was rebuilding and repainting the existing wood windows. Contractor, Bear Wood Windows of Lakewood, Washington removed the previous sealant by cutting out and recaulking with Pecora Dynatrol® I-XL Hybrid. All while maintaining the historical integrity of the building.

Owners wanted to be able to paint over the sealant. One of the advantages of Dynatrol® I-XL Hybrid is its paintabilty, which played a significant role in its selection for the project. Paintability is important for both functional and aesthetic reasons. It offers design flexibility, allows for seamless integration with surrounding surfaces, contributes to long-term appearance and durability, facilitates maintenance, and enhances weather resistance, making it a valuable feature in construction projects.

Dynatrol® I-XL Hybrid is based on Pecora’s unique hybrid STPU differentiating it from the standard Dynatrol® I-XL urethane-based sealant. The STPU chemistry utilized by the Dynatrol® I-XL Hybrid formula is a one-part, moisture curing sealant that has been developed specifically for sealing dynamic joints on both porous and non-porous surfaces. It cures to a low modulus rubber with extraordinary adhesion capable of accommodating joint movement of ±50%. Dynatrol® I-XL Hybrid does not yellow, crack, or craze under long term exposure to UV light.

This restoration effort aligns with the broader significance of preserving cultural heritage, maintaining architectural integrity, and contributing to the sustainability and identity of the community. The successful restoration not only addresses the practical needs of the Old City Hall building but also exemplifies a commitment to excellence, ensuring that the building remains a beacon of cultural enrichment for generations to come. Through these endeavors, the Whatcom Museum continues to play a vital role in fostering education, cultural appreciation, and community pride in the heart of Bellingham.

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