The end of the Monkeyshines cycle. Or is it?

Each year, around the Chinese New Year, something special happens in Tacoma. People search the streets, parks, and public art of the city looking for pieces of blown glass, marbles, ceramics, poetry, and other art.

It happens in a single night. Sometimes it happens over several nights. This last year several thousand pieces of art went out over about a week’s time.

People who know about it start to twitch after the New Year. The talk about it. They plan. They scheme. They strategize. Those who have been following this story for years hang on any word from Ms. Monkey to reveal secrets that could help them find one. 

We met with Ms. Monkey last week in a corner booth of an iconic Tacoma bar. She talked about the last 12 years of hiding, hunting, finding, and magic. “I just love how people love it and people want to be a part of it. Some of the stories will make you cry."

Monkeyshines began twelve years ago. It was a project created by a handful of Tacoma artists wanting to bring something good into the world after a string of bad news. Approximately 200 pieces went out that year - hand blown glass balls made by approximately 20 glassblowers, each with a Monkey stamp.

That first year was the year of the monkey in 2004. Years of the rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, and horse followed. Monkeyshines 2015 saw thousands of art pieces from multiple artists, groups, and families celebrating the year of the ram. It was a huge year.

From the monkey to the ram is twelve years. The original artists all committed to doing the full lunar cycle. It’s done now. So now what? Will it continue? Costs have risen. The time commitment has grown. 

Ms. Monkey shares her theory on the source of the magic, which she says goes beyond being one of the lucky ones who find a piece of hidden art: "The gift is the time hunting with your family. I really want to push everyone to think about their gift. What do you give? What do you create? Do you sing a song? How do you impact someone’s days?”

Ms. Monkey acknowledges the this project is now part of the story that is Tacoma. People count on it. "Tacoma goes to bed dreaming of Monkeyshines - like the easter bunny. You can believe in it.”

And with that, and after a long evening's conversation, we now know with confidence that there will be another twelve years. And, in the spirit of Monkeyshines, it will continue to grow every year. And you can help - start thinking what your gift can be...


Similar to last year, after several good conversations with Ms. Monkey, there is now a way for you to help make Monkeyshines happen and grow. There are two options:

1. You can donate any amount of money to the project. Every dollar makes art: DONATE HERE.


2. You can purchase a limited edition Monkey candle cup. The price is $100 and the money is intended to, again, make more art for this year's Monkeyshines. Pick up is either at Sonia's in Proctor, or Creative Forces in the Murano Hotel. They will both have inventory available for sale as well. You can BUY THE CUPS ONLINE and pick it up from one of these two shops or you can purchase it at the shop. The fine folks at the shops are just helping Ms. Monkey and not technically selling these, so please pay in cash or check if you're planning to do it in person. 

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YAY!!!!!!!! tears are joy

December 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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tears OF joy!

December 15, 2015 at 1:18 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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YAY!! One of the best things about Tacoma!! Monkeyshines led me to Beautiful Angle - love that too!! These 2 events get me out of the house, even when it’s cold or rainy-lol Thank you!!

December 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Yay!!!!  Thank you Ms. Monkey.  Let us know if you need help - money, muscle.  I couldn’t afford to buy a votive last year but this year I can.

December 15, 2015 at 1:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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You’ve made my day!!! Thank you!!!  :-)

We were enablers last year.  Is that an opportunity this year?  We would love to be enablers again.

December 15, 2015 at 1:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Pretty exciting (ok, really exciting) to see it come back. Was able to help out last year by picking up a cup and hoped it would help further the fun for myself and countless others out there!

If you’re really looking for a short term fix for your monkeyshine obsession, take a look at what Lincoln City is doing. Google “finders keepers”. Maybe I’ll run into some Tacoma friends over the new years break, eh eh?!?!?

Really trying to think of a way to have some photo or video fun with all these searchers and shenanigans that go along with the annual search. Hmmmmmmm, time to brainstorm….

December 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I’ve done photo safari s of the marbles I’ve found then left them for someone else.  I think I have about 30.  I’ve also found cups and re-hid them where an approaching group would find it - didn’t think to photograph that one.  Keep us up on your brainstorming.

December 23, 2015 at 9:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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12th Man Sisters

So happy to hear this just last night my sister and I were talking about Monkeyshine time and getting our plan together, we have Monkeyshine fever already!! So we have made our list and checked twice, almost time to be on the lookout for something nice!!! Ms Monkey THANK YOU for all you have done and given over the last 12 years!! Looking forward to another 12!!

December 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thank you SO very much volunteers! This has become a family tradition we all look forward to.

December 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Outstanding! (Mrs. marbleman doing a happy dance!)

December 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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So grateful to Ms. Monkey. We out-of-staters have heard about this event for years from our now 5- & 7-year-old grandkids, and were lucky to be staying in Tacoma for the 2015 monkeyshine season. What a great way to explore and find hidden corners in your wonderful city! We’ll definitely miss scouting the parks and streets in 2016.

December 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Eileen C.

Please post how I can donate $$. I love this tradition.

December 15, 2015 at 6:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Is there a new votive candle holder this year? If so, where can I buy one. If not, where can I contribute to help cover costs. I won’t be in Tacoma for the hunt but still want to contribute.

December 16, 2015 at 9:51 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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My third grade son was just asking me if there would be another year. So excited, and thanks for keeping the magic alive. Being the magician is never easy.

December 16, 2015 at 6:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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We got our candle votive!! outstanding!! these can be bought at the Murano downtown and at Sonias in the proctor district. they are there now! go get one!!! the monkey will make you smile!! Mischief and happiness! Great Christmas gifts too!!

December 22, 2015 at 8:33 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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couldn’t help but share the pair, side by side.

December 24, 2015 at 10:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Y’all are awfully quiet. Been out and about the last couple of mornings and it sure is nice out there. Fun exploring some new locations, seeing some of my personal favorites, even ones I’m sure have never seen a monkeyshine, but it’s still fun to check in :) Also met a nice girl this morning at firemans park, watched the sun rise, chatted a bit about monkeyshines (her friends hides them is what she said) and about the superbowl. Random strangers, talking, so crazy anymore!
Enjoy the adventure. Lots to see in our beautiful city.

February 3, 2016 at 8:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I would like to post a picture…. help please?

February 3, 2016 at 11:00 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I am having issues to marbleman… I have been looking for marbles, but no luck yet. Seems to give me luck when I find a marble to find a shine… Please tell me you are putting them out…

February 3, 2016 at 11:36 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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if I remember right, i think you just post a URL and it automatically does it. But since you’re asking, I can’t be sure, even though I posted an image a few comments above, haha.

February 3, 2016 at 11:40 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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So excited for this years hunt..  Has anyone seen or found anything as of yet??

February 3, 2016 at 11:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Found a key last night with ribbon tied to it. About 3 inches long, that was painted. Old church style key…

February 3, 2016 at 11:32 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Newbie this year, I have some littles that are in awe of the Monkeyshine story! Can someone suggest a place to look that’s slightly kid friendly? They are super excited!!

February 3, 2016 at 12:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If you have some time today, look through some of the old posts here:

There is a ton of good spots to be found in there where people have found them. Your best bet are public parks, water features (fountains, etc), chinese influenced areas/businesses. If you need to trespass, you’re probably not in a good spot, especially with kids ;) I’ve gotten a little anxious at times and find myself in places I shouldn’t be and need to remember that they probably aren’t hiding in those spots.

Make sure the kiddos understand that they may not find one. Searching can be frustrating, especially for young ones. If you forsee that happening and it gets to that point, maybe bring a little something like to help them find some “treasure.”

Either way, good luck, have fun, look up some new parks and go exploring. Tacoma has so much to offer and every year I stumble upon a few new spots I had no idea existed. I’ve thought about doing a little mini-blog on it alone, haha.

February 3, 2016 at 1:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Well, you were SO helpful! My kiddos are so giving…THEY want to leave treasures for other people to “make them feel happy too”...I was thinking parks would be the best bet…I hope we will have luck Monday…because someone’s may be playing hooky…looking for Shines! ;)

February 3, 2016 at 2:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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hi all,
First off a huge thanks to Ms Monkey for continuing this Tacoma tradition! its a huge undertaking! To celebrate another cycle of monkey shine adventures,  there are some very special art glass marbles to be found. here’s a sampling of what will be out there for anyone to find. THANKS MS. MONKEY!!

February 3, 2016 at 12:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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My little monkey found a small marble this evening.  They were so excited we spent an hour or so out in the dark and wind and rain.  We had a great time.  Thank you!!!

February 3, 2016 at 8:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thanks Marbleman, found 2 early morning. So glad the rain took a break

February 4, 2016 at 2:36 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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sometimes it is better to look UP rather than down….. :-)

February 5, 2016 at 8:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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and the twins were jealous of the lions…

February 5, 2016 at 8:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Me and the pug were out at Lincoln Park and Wright Park this morning between 330 and 5am. Didnt see anything, and in fact didnt even see any hunters out until we were leaving (so I guess we might have been a little too early for the worm ;p)

February 6, 2016 at 10:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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12th Man SistersRegistered

We got a little anxious and our little monkeys have started playing in Tacoma… Now how to we post a picture?? We would like to show a example of our little friends out playing!!

February 6, 2016 at 5:46 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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monkey friends

There are a lot of people posting on Twitter and some on instagram with the #monkeyshines2016 hashtag

There has been a lot going on in the last few days.

February 6, 2016 at 6:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Is Monkey Shine still going on???

February 16, 2016 at 8:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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