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Telling the story of Washington's history includes highlighting the characters and events that have affected the growth of our area. From the tale of women's suffrage, to the mystery of D.B. Cooper, to the impacts of Executive Order 9066, to Northwest citizens and the Cold War, and so much more, the Washington State History Museum provides in-depth exhibitions full of artifacts, ephemera, stories, and images that enrich your visitor experience.
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Current featured exhibitions:

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Washington: My Home

New permanent exhibition in the Great Hall of Washington History

“It has rained nearly every day since I have been here and yet I like it,” Anaximander Tutton wrote to his family in South Dakota shortly after his arrival in Washington. His story and those of many others are part of Washington: My Home, the new exhibit in the Great Hall of Washington History. Through oral histories and artifacts, visitors can explore migration and immigration through the experiences of diverse individuals who, over time, have come to live in Washington.

Visitors first glimpse the Arrival Windows, illuminating images of people who call Washington home. Below the windows are artifacts and stories of dramatic journeys, arrival, and belonging. These accounts range from the 1840s with the first African American family to arrive in Washington Territory to 2015 when the first family of Syrian refugees settled in Seattle, with many others in between.

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On view through July 15, 2018

As long as there have been children, there have been toys. However, what children have played with and how they play has changed over time. Discover how toys and play have evolved, and consider what you can deduce about a particular point in time by looking at playthings from that era. See a colorful variety of toys from the Historical Society's collections, learn about the rise of playgrounds, and find out how Washington has made its mark in toymaking history (the Slinky Dog was invented here, for one!). 

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Nursery PlayDates


Collections Selections

On view through July 15, 2018

Collections Selections will be an ongoing series of exhibitions featuring rotations of artifacts from the Historical Society's collections. Each iteration of Collections Selections will be organized around a theme. 
In tandem with the premier traveling exhibition TOYTOPIA, Collections Selections: In The Nursery builds on the theme of play. Step into a turn-of-the-century nursery recreation, with period wallpaper, historic photographs and artwork, and toys and furnishings that represent what you might have seen in the children's room of a Washington home in the early 1900s. Learn about the middle class that emerged after the industrial revolution, and subsquently American's changing ideas about childhood, and how that manifested in the home environment.

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, 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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