Windermere Professional Partners

What Is Monkeyshines and How Do You Do It?

December 1, 2019

Started back in 2003, Monkeyshines is a beloved Tacoma tradition that thousands of people look forward to each year. Tacoma is home to a thriving arts scene, so it’s no wonder that one of our most popular happenings of the year is centered around unique pieces of art! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here—keep reading to find out exactly what Monkeyshines is and how you can participate.

What exactly is Monkeyshines?

In 2003, a local, unknown artist known as Ms. Monkey started Tacoma's Monkeyshines tradition. Ms. Monkey wanted to brighten up the mood around town, and she decided to make one-of-a-kind pieces of glass art to hide around town. The idea was that people would randomly come across these glass baubles while out and about in Tacoma. Ms. Monkey and some friends got to work creating these glass pieces, and the first year they created about 200 pieces. Their intent was to distribute them by Christmas, but the project took longer than anticipated, and the next holiday on the horizon was Chinese New Year, so they took the opportunity to celebrate and distribute their glass creations around town.

Over the years, the tradition got bigger and bigger as more people found out about it. Monkeyshines took on a life of its own, with other groups creating their own pieces of art to hide around Tacoma for locals to find in the city-wide scavenger hunt.

Generally, the hunt happens on and around Chinese New Year, but you’ll want to follow the Monkeyshines Facebook for details! On the day of the big scavenger hunt, many people wake up in the early hours of the morning while it’s still dark to begin the hunt for Monkeyshines throughout Tacoma. Searching in public spaces is a good place to start, and you’ll want to bundle up and bring a flashlight if you’re out in the wee hours!

So if you’re out hunting for a piece of art... what exactly are you looking for?

Each year, a secretive team of glassblowers creates hundreds of globes and medallions, all unique and hand-blown. Each piece is usually stamped with an image of an animal in honor of that year’s Chinese zodiac animal, and it's not impossible that you'll find pieces from past years as well if you really look—it's been known to happen!

In recent years, thousands of pieces of artwork are created for the event each year, and there are fundraisers to help raise the funds for materials. This year, many people have donated money and time to create ~2,000 "monkeyshines" to hide around town, and Hilltop Artists is one of the great organizations working to create the glass objects. (We love Hilltop Artists and have supported them through foundation contributions in the past!)


This year’s Chinese New Year is on Friday, February 12, 2021, so put it on the calendar now and keep your eyes and ears open for more info as the date gets closer! And remember to follow Monkeyshines Facebook page here for more details.