As is appropriate for so much of Renton’s history, the exhibit starts with a Moses. Henry Moses, of the dxʷdəwʔabš/Duwamish, often referred to as chief, is the entry point for Renton History Museum’s journey through sports history.
Originally scheduled to launch in spring, the museum and exhibit adapted to a the COVID-19 pandemic. Mask usage is required, the staff takes your info for possible contact tracing, there is a path to guide you through the main exhibits, and with the spacious main hall you feel comfortable even when others enter.
The exhibit itself shifted as gaining access to artifacts was complicated due to the pandemic. The delay the launch means that it is up at the same time as What Difference Do Renton Women Make?
Being up at the same time as an exhibit focused on women makes sense for the dive into Renton’s sporting history. After Moses, the display shifts to two girls who helped Renton High School dominate the King County high school basketball scene in the 20s. And then girls’ sports disappeared from schools.
While Renton produced an Olympic quality women’s track star during the stretch between the Great Depression and Title IX, it was more by accident than any plan. After 37 years with a smattering of sports, the US legal ruling brought about a surge in opportunity for female athletes.
The best museum exhibits do not explain everything. Instead they open up stories that inspire you to learn more. Renton History Museum will help do that for the visitor. Even those steeped in the tales of the South King County city will learn that Mark Prothero was more than a lawyer that defended the Green River Killer, but one of Washington’s best swimmers ever.
Before Zach LaVine was winning dunk contests Renton High won titles in both football and basketball, with seven players that featured on both squads. There are other pros that called Renton home, not just a birthplace.
The triumph in the exhibit is the way that it teases you to learn more – to understand and connect with Renton via sports. That there is a throughline to the other feature exhibit as well as two of the three static subjects for the museum is a great bonus.
Dave Clark is a Renton-Kent resident for the majority of his life. Clark was previously a participant in Hero’s Feast: Finding Community through Dungeons & Dragons. His past writings have featured at WeRTacoma.com, SounderAtHeart.com and numerous other outlets.