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Watson Exhibit Opening & Float ID Day

Jim Watson was one of the world’s leading collectors of Japanese glass fishing floats. He traveled throughout the world meeting fishermen, artisans, and collectors, seeking out the most unique pieces he could find. He taught many people about the history and beauty of these unparalleled working objects.

North Lincoln County Historical Museum (NLCHM) has had one of the largest collections of Japanese glass fishing floats on the Oregon coast, largely due to Jim Watson’s contributions throughout the years. With the aim of continuing his mission, the James L. Watson Fishing Float Foundation donated the last remaining pieces from Jim’s personal collection to NLCHM in 2023.This exhibit will show a selection of his rarest pieces, which have not been seen for over twenty years.

This new exhibit, in honor of Jim Watson’s legacy, will be available to see in the main hall at NLCHM through 2024. There will be a selection of floats, photo slide shows on our iPad kiosk, historical information about the floats, and clips from a presentation he gave at the museum in 2000. The opening reception will take place on February 17th, from 1PM – 3:30PM. We will play the full video of his presentation, starting at 2PM (Total running time: 1 hour 34 min).

The following weekend, February 24th, 2024, 12PM – 3PM, in tandem with Lincoln City’s Antique Week, NLCHM will be hosting our very popular Float ID Day! Community members are invited to bring in their own glass fishing floats to talk with experts, and learn how to identify these special treasures. Dr. Nicklis Simpson, DMD, and other well known float collectors and aficionados will be in attendance to help visitors learn the history of their floats. We’re very excited to see what you bring in!

New Exhibit – Kid’s Point of View

We’ve finished installing the panels for Kid’s Point of View – A brand new permanent exhibit with interactive panels throughout the museum. Thanks to a generous donation from the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition, we were able to purchase permanent swinging panel boards, and pay for printing to install this new interactive exhibit designed for kids.

The 80 panels have stories from different people who grew up in North Lincoln County, highlighting experiences and memories unique to being a kid in the 1890s – 1940s growing up in Rose Lodge, Taft, Nelscott, Siletz, etc. These stories are paired with images of the speaker, and locations, people, and objects that they are remembering. Each story is displayed in English and Spanish, making this our very first exhibit that is entirely bilingual!

James L. Watson Foundation Donation

Left to right: Diana Watson, Christopher Melton, and Nick Simpson, holding one of the largest pieces in the collection.

North Lincoln County Historical Museum is proud to have one of the largest glass fishing float collections on the Oregon coast. You can read more about our collection and the history of fishing floats HERE.

We are very excited to announce a most generous donation from the James L. Watson Fishing Float Foundation. This summer we received the last remaining floats and memorabilia from Jim’s personal collection, which have not been seen for over 20 years. The Foundation had been storing these privately, and to continue James Watson’s legacy, decided to gift the remaining collection and funds to NLCHM. These resources will be used to care for and preserve glass fishing floats, keep the museum operating its permanent float exhibits, and create new educational resources to ensure that his collections will be available for generations to appreciate and study.

We are working hard to inventory all of these unique, rare, and important artifacts. We anticipate a spring exhibit and event to celebrate this amazing collection, and to honor James Watson and all that he has done for educating and preserving the history of glass fishing floats.

We are eternally grateful to all of our donors. Be assured we would never sell, discard, or remove items from the our collections without the donor’s signed agreement. We are planning a fishing float sale in the spring of items specifically donated for the purpose of raising funds for the museum. We have not finalized details, watch our page for an announcement in 2024.

We want to give special thanks to Diana Watson for making this generous contribution. Additional thanks to our previous Executive Director, Jeff Syrop, for helping make this possible; and to our volunteers: Nick Simpson for all the work he has done with the foundation and inventorying the floats; and Richard Townsend for helping with the transportation of the artifacts to the museum.