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Consider Washington's history through forward-facing topics that are relevant today. Changing exhibitions are on the fifth floor, and the Great Hall of Washington History is on the third floor. 

Exhibitions for 2019 are generously supported by presenting sponsor The Norcliffe Foundation.

In the Great Hall of Washington History, see intricate Native basketry, learn about women's suffrage in the Evergreen State, snap a selfie in a covered wagon, step into an old-time general store, and get a close-up look at Clovis points (some of the oldest human-made artifacts in the state!). Explore immigration in Washington: My Home.

Current featured exhibitions - click for more:  

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Little Black Dress: A Fashion Evolution
On view through December 5, 2019

See a timeline of dresses from the 1890s through 2010s. Dresses are paired with artwork by women created during the same decades. Learn how forms followed norms, and how the color black transitioned from mourning and servitude to evening and daywear. Learn about how the shapes and materials of women's garments changed over time in response to wormen's evoloving roles and changing social norms. In the Strike a Pose interactive section visitors can feel the weight of an 1800s dress compared to one from the 2000s, and try hats and accessories. 

NMR exhibit page


A New Moon Rises
On view through December 1, 2019

Fifty years ago the U.S. landed Apollo 11 on the lunar surface and all those watching virtually took that giant leap ... in honor of that momentous event we celebrate the Moon with this exhibition from the Smithsonian. Learn about how much the moon continues to change, and see phenomenal images captured by theLunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) between 2009 and 2015. You can even watch a video of the camera as it continues to move around the Moon today. It's the next best thing to being an astronaut!


Image credit: Canoe model, Southern Northwest Coast culture area / Makah, circa1900-1922. Carved of wood, with "wolf head" bow and straight stern. Collection of Washington State Historical Society, 1922.184.1.

Collections Selections: Canoe Models 
Exhibition on view February 16-January 13, 2020

This exhibition shows the Washington State Historical Society’s collection of model canoes carved as representations of larger vessels and as art created for the tourist trade. Several different tribes, art styles, and canoe designs are represented here, dating from the 1870s to the early 2000s.

Horizon landing page hero
 

Image credit: James Tilton Pickett, Mt. Olympus, c. 1885, James Tilton Pickett. Oil on canvas, 16 x 14 inches. Collection of Washington State Historical Society, C1943.1.1. 

Horizon 
Exhibition on view February 16, 2019
-January 13, 2020

Experience a single horizon line created through twenty-eight landscapes in an intimate gallery setting. All works are from the Washington State Historical Society’s collection and date from 1870 to 1966. They are hung together in a way that aligns their dominant horizon lines. The cumulative result is the effect of a continual landscape around the perimeter of the gallery. 


Permanent Exhibits

The Great Hall

Our largest exhibit at the Washington State History Museum, The Great Hall of Washington History is a walk through time. This year-round space showcases some of our earliest history with the Clovis Points and a variety of artifacts from Native American civilization and culture, and explains the progression through statehood including industrialization, the war and post-war eras, women's suffrage, immigration and migration, and more. Allow at least two hours to fully absorb the material in the Great Hall of Washington History.
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History Lab

The History Lab Learning Center engages visitors with interactive exhibits featuring historical concepts such as Time, Place, Viewpoint, Exploration, and Precedent. In the learning center, visitors of all ages are encouraged to use the Tools of the History Trade (artifacts, ephemera, books and periodicals, people, maps, and images) to think like detectives in search of evidence. The History Lab exhibit is on the fifth floor of the History Museum.

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Model Railroad

Don your conductor's cap and climb aboard the History Museum's own model railroad. Watch history being made as the Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers club continues construction on the 1,800-square-foot permanent layout depicting the rail lines from Tacoma's Point Defiance Park to the Stampede Pass tunnel in the Cascades. Join us when we celebrate model trains with our annual Model Train Festival.

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