About SPARK

Docent Mark Allyn demonstrates Edison phonograph

The amazing items you see featured on this website are only a small sample of the larger, more complete collection residing at SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, a Northwest Washington history and science museum located in beautiful Bellingham, WA. Lightning strikes several times a day at the Museum, and thousands of students and visitors experience the marvelous history, science and power of electricity.

The Museum is a center for education and enlightenment. It’s a place where students can get charged about science and discovery while surrounded by one of the most significant and complete collections of its kind in the world. Really. The exhibits and artifacts on display at SPARK Museum have been referred to as a local version of Smithsonian!

Following a continuous thread of invention and discovery, SPARK Museum’s collection contains a wealth of unique and rare artifacts dating from the earliest days of scientific electrical experiments in the 1600’s through the 1940’s and the Golden Age of Radio. Artifacts from the laboratories of the early pioneers of electricity, from magnets and Leyden jars to Edison light bulbs, magnificent vacuum tubes, telegraph and telephones all are well represented. All these items are on display each day we’re open. You can get up close and personal, and even touch many of them!

Thousands of radios are in the collection, ranging from the early “Herzian-wave” devices, to a complete set of early Atwater Kent “breadboards,” all the way to scores of exceptional and beautifully crafted floor and table-top radios. The collection also includes rare music boxes, early phonographs, and many examples of radio broadcasting technology and memorabilia from the best-known radio companies and broadcasters. Where else can you see stuff like this in Washington State?

Other rare pieces include the largest collection of 19th century electromagnetic apparatus found in any private collection, and rare and original books, treatises and scientific papers by such authors as Gilbert, Newton, Galileo, Benjamin Franklin, Volta, Hertz, and Marconi. These texts illustrate the crucial steps and turning points in the development of electricity and radio.

The Museum offers visitors a first-hand introduction to the wonderful world of electricity and radio, providing every opportunity to discover, test and be amazed. In addition to the six galleries, SPARK Museum in Bellingham, WA features other popular interactive displays, including various Tesla Coils (featuring our nine-foot tall “MegaZapper”), which create dazzling bursts of lightning on command. Adventurous visitors are invited to experience hair-raising activities in the Museum’s static electricity lab, or even create other-worldly sounds from the Theremin (the first electronic musical instrument), and much more. When we say this is an interactive, hands-on museum, we mean it!

SPARK is a Whatcom County non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible; financial gifts support and sustain the Museum’s science education program, interactive galleries, exhibit spaces and displays. Your generosity allows the Museum to continue serving thousands of visitors every year with the best in interactive learning and entertainment.

See video for a tour of the museum.