Lifestyle

A peek into ‘What Kitsap Collects’

Kitsap County Historical Society Museum Curator Erin O’Brien fluffs up a dress belonging to a Bainbridge Island woman who collects dresses. The display is one of several collections at the museum as part of the “What Kitsap Collects: A Unique Perspective” exhibit. - Rachel Brant/staff photos
Kitsap County Historical Society Museum Curator Erin O’Brien fluffs up a dress belonging to a Bainbridge Island woman who collects dresses. The display is one of several collections at the museum as part of the “What Kitsap Collects: A Unique Perspective” exhibit.
— image credit: Rachel Brant/staff photos

Historical Society Museum’s collections exhibit open through February.

Michele Simpson collects everything nursing.

Nurse dolls, toys, books about nursing, everything.

Now through February, just a few of the Port Orchard collector’s items are on display at the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum.

The “What Kitsap Collects: A Unique Perspective” exhibit opened yesterday on the museum’s mezzanine and features various collections ranging from nursing paraphernalia to flamingos to old cameras.

“It’s all from the community,” said Kitsap County Historical Society Museum Curator Erin O’Brien.

The “community-curated” exhibit took shape after the museum, located on Fourth Street in downtown Bremerton, handed out flyers at the county fair and put information in its newsletter looking for collectors.

O’Brien said the museum heard from several interested collectors and she personally viewed their collections before deciding which ones to put on display at the Historical Society Museum.

“It was very different,” she said. “I was expecting the usual coins and stamps.”

O’Brien has only been with the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum for about three months, so she’s not sure how the idea of a collections exhibit came about. O’Brien previously worked at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

An elderly Bainbridge Island woman submitted just a few of her dresses for the collections exhibit. O’Brien said the woman has more than 200 dresses from various decades crammed into her tiny apartment.

“She was kind enough to let us have some of her stuff,” O’Brien said. “We, unfortunately, don’t know much about the history behind the dresses.”

Kitsap County Clerk Dave Peterson submitted a few of his political signs for the exhibit. O’Brien said she sorted through many signs and selected the ones on display based on the importance or popularity of the political figures as well as the attractiveness of the signs.

After selecting the signs to display, O’Brien noticed they all had one thing in common.

“Coincidentally, all of them turned out to be Democratic,” she said. “I’m hoping it’ll be something interesting people will discuss.”

A man submitted his glass milk bottle collection for the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum exhibit. O’Brien said he started collecting milk bottles when he found one years ago and now owns more than 700 of them.

“It really seems that people collect things for a variety of different reasons,” she said.

While some of the milk bottles are plain, others have nursery rhymes and other things written on them. A few bottles from the World War II era encouraged people to buy war bonds.

“Who knew that something so everyday could be so interesting,” O’Brien said.

Simpson collects nursing paraphernalia and has her own nursing museum at her home.

“She’s been a nurse herself for many, many years,” O’Brien said.

She said a man walked into the museum one day and said he had a tiki mug collection he’d like to submit for the exhibit.

“I said, ‘Hey that sounds weird, can I come see it?’” she laughed.

O’Brien visited the man’s home and, sure enough, he had a large tiki mug collection.

“Apparently in the ’50s there was a whole tiki culture,” she said. “It was this whole big movement after World War II.”

The man also owns a ukulele signed by Don Ho, which also is featured in the exhibit.

“That was his favorite piece so we had to put it in the collection,” O’Brien said.

A Port Orchard woman collects everything flamingo, which is on display at the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum as well.

She has flamingo slippers, statues, flashing lights and an apron and the collection wasn’t even her idea, according to O’Brien.

“This was all gifts from people,” she said. “They found out she had some and kept adding to it.”

The collections exhibit is open at the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum now through February, and museum entry is $2.

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