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48°45′5.25″N 122°28′49.39″W / 48.7514583°N 122.4803861°W / 48.7514583; -122.4803861

Street view of the American Museum of Radio and Electricity

The American Museum of Radio and Electricity is an interactive museum located in Bellingham, Washington which offers educational experiences for audiences of all ages through galleries and public programs that illustrate the development and use of electricity, radio and the related inventions that changed the course of human history. The museum features a collection of artifacts showcasing four centuries of human innovation from 1580 into the 1950s.


Museum History

The museum began in 1985 as an informal collection of radio sets, spare parts, schematics, recordings, and vintage magazines and manuals owned by a Bellingham resident, Jonathan Winter[1] Winter's collection continued to grow, and by 1998, the Bellingham Antique Radio Museum was officially established, with the more than 800 radio sets from Winter's collection forming the core of the museum's collection[1].

The museum took on its present name in 2001 when it moved into its 23,000-square-foot (2,100 m2) facilitiy and John Jenkins, a former sales and marketing manager at Microsoft, retired and became co-curator of the museum.[2] Jenkins added his collection to the museum, which included early wireless and electrical devices, and rare books with first editions dating back to 1560 and written by Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday, C. F. du Fay, Benjamin Franklin, Luigi Galvani, William Gilbert, Joseph Henry, Heinrich Hertz, James Clerk Maxwell, Pieter van Musschenbroek, Georg Ohm, Hans Christian Ørsted, Alessandro Volta, among others.[2]

Early in its history, the museum was featured on An American Moment.[1]


  • Dawn of the Electrical Age (1600-1800)
  • Electricity Sparks Invention (1800-1900)
  • The Beginning of Radio and the Wireless Era (1863-1920)
  • Radio Enters the Home (1920-1927)
  • The Golden Age of Radio (1928-1950)

Notable Exhibits

Exhibits include:

Radio station

The museum operates the low-power radio station KMRE-LP in Bellingham. KMRE-LP focuses on showcasing The American Museum of Radio and Electricity’s vast and diverse media collection featuring music from the earliest cylinder recordings of 1888 through the Golden Age of Radio. The station is also geared toward cultivating local programming that provides educational, cultural and historical value to its listeners[7]. KMRE was granted it's license by the FCC on July 19, 2006.

SPARK Science Education Program

The Museums education program has three main initiatives:

  • Outreach Program - Operating throughout Western Washington, the outreach program works directly with public schools, private schools and home-school networks to offer assemblies, in class science courses and special focus tours. Programs are available at the Museum or on-site at the school, this program gives educators great resources to augment their regular science curriculum. The Museum is on track to serve over 5,000 students in 2008. The program adheres to the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) for Washington State.
  • Community Education Program - Through the Museum's regular Science Saturday classes, summer camps, lectures and special events this program offers exciting hands-on classes, tours and exhibits to the community at large focusing on the process of innovation, invention and the core facets of radio, electricity and physics. The Museums Science Saturday classes are geared for children ages 8 to 14. The hands-on classes include topics such as static electricity, magnetism, motors, circuits, and crystal radios.

This program is primarily housed at the Museum but also travels to deliver classes and demonstrations in communities around the region.

  • Educator Program - Working directly with educators, the Museum offers special courses to increase grade school teachers’ comfort and proficiency in teaching science. Teacher’s taking part in this program receive continued education credits (clock hours) to fulfill key professional development goals.


American Museum of Radio and Electricity Tesla performance space

Aside from normal operations, the museum utilizes its Tesla Performance Center to house various events.

Past events include:

  • The Chuckanut Radio Hour
  • Midnight Mystery Players
  • Art Of Jazz Series
  • Sustainable Connections
  • Linuxfest Northwest
  • Bellingham Robot Festival

Further reading

  • Loud Talker: The Early History of Loudspeakers by John D. Jenkins (2008 ISBN 978-0-9794569-1-6)
  • Where Discovery Sparks Imagination by John D. Jenkins ( ISBN: 978-0-9794569-0-9)


  1. ^ a b c d History and Vision from the museum's website
  2. ^ a b CHRS on location at the American Museum of Radio with photos, from the California Historical Radio Society
  3. ^ a b c Exhibits from the museum's website
  4. ^ A RCA Victor Theremin Registry, from the "Theremin World" website
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^
  7. ^ KMRE 102.3 FM from the museum's website

External links



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