Larson to showcase Polson Museum’s ‘greatest hits’ on Saturday

John Larson is working hard to bring the area’s amateur historians Polson Museum’s “greatest hits,” and he can’t wait to share them.

Larson’s slideshow is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday in the downstairs meeting room inside Hoquiam Timberland Library, located at 420 7th St. And, it’s free to attend.

The slideshow will give an introduction to how the museum’s collection has evolved through the last few decades. It will let people know how the photos come into the collection, how the museum’s staff processed them during the early days versus now, and to give people a brief introduction to the museum’s database, which has more than 30,000 catalogued photos.

“But, it will be a fun slideshow for people to get a taste of some of my favorite pictures from that collection,” said Larson, director of Polson Museum — 1611 Riverside Ave., in Hoquiam. “It’ll give an overview of the various photographers and subject matters that span the broad collection that we have.”

Larson spoke to The Daily World on Wednesday about the work to narrow down what photos to use during his presentation.

“I’ve organized it based on the type of photos we have, so glass plate negatives, film negatives, small format prints, postcards, panoramas, and then out of those types of images are the original artifacts,” Larson said. “It’ll just be a real whirlwind tour of Grays Harbor history from all different eras. So, some fun stuff.”

Larson’s showing of the glass plate negatives should be a treat for his guests.

“Of all the types of pictures out there, at least mediums in which photographic information is stored, to me, the glass plate is still the most superior way to capture an image of anything,” Larson said. “It’s very stable if kept in the right environment, it’s incredibly clear if you have done your developing right and gotten the photo taken well in the first place. Just marvelous stuff. Really good detail. We have a lot of glass plates in our collection.”

One of the photos Larson shared with The Daily World shows the “45” Polson Logging Company locomotive, which is featured at Polson Museum.

“I just loved the composition of this image, the detail of the worker’s faces and attire, and of course the locomotive during its working years,” Larson said.

Another one shows four automobiles in front of what was the F.G. Foster Company, which is now an Edward Jones office near Hoquiam’s Swanson’s Foods grocery store.

Larson will also talk about the equipment Polson staff uses in order to process such a large collection.

“It’ll give people a real good sense of what is involved with maintaining a collection of 30,000 to 50,000 pictures we’ve got in our storage world here,” Larson said. “When I say 30,000 to 50,000, I’m using a loose number. We’ve catalogued 30,000 in our database, but there’s a lot more than that yet to come. And I will be giving a little taste of some of the collections we will be processing in the future.”

Larson said he’ll show a “real mixture,” of subjects to the audience, including street scenes from the various cities in Grays Harbor.

“Logging scenes and sawmill scenes, there’s a lot of stuff that kind of take a deep dive into those aspects of the working world of our past,” Larson said. “There are aerial photos taken of various parts on the Harbor that kind of give that big overview of property.”

Larson was happy to explain how in-depth the collection gets.

“There’s really great people pictures,” Larson said. “Just kind of candid photos of people living life, whether they’re Native Americans in their villages, whether it’s kids at play, pictures at home, in the streets, in the backyards, and whatnot.”

It sounded like a cumbersome process. But Larson wants to give a good show.

“This has been a challenging slideshow to put together because there’s so much to dig through,” Larson said. “It’s kind of based on my personal, what I’m interested in, but I’m like ‘Oh my God, I love ‘em all.’ But I guess that’s the burden that I have, is to try to figure out what do I like best?”

Larson sounded pretty proud of some of the finely detailed images Polson Museum has in its collection.

Despite the laborious sounding process in order to make it a good show — as of Wednesday he pared it down to about 200 photos — Larson emphasized how it’ll be a “fun” show.

“I think folks will enjoy it,” Larson said. “I’m gonna keep it pretty casual and just in my style, kind of give a real broad introduction to this thing and give people a taste of what they can find if they’re browsing, themselves, through our collections.”

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at