The Eastern Washington State Historical Society was founded in 1916 as a Washington not-for-profit corporation, and designated a trustee of the State for collecting historical documents and artifacts in 1926. The Society first received State funding in 1937, opened the privately-funded Cheney Cowles Museum in 1960, and was given Legislative authority to collect regional art in 1973.
In 2001, the Society opened a new exhibit hall and changed its public name to the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture - now popularly known as the MAC. The MAC is one of Washington's five Smithsonian Affiliates and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
The MAC's purpose is to inspire and foster understanding of the history, cultures, communities, commerce and art of the Inland Northwest.