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Consider Washington's history through topics that are relevant today. Explore immigration in Washington: My Home. Get a look at reuse and recycling in Make/Do: A History of Creative Reuse. 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!)  in the Great Hall of Washington History

Download a map of the galleries here.

Current featured exhibitions: 

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Two Centuries of Glass

Through February 10, 2019

Washington is recognized around the world for its colorful art glass. Tens of thousands of people visit our state every year to see the work of artists such as Dale Chihuly, Sonja Blomdahl, William Morris, Ginny Ruffner, Preston Singletary and many others featured in galleries, museums and public spaces across the state.  

But what about the beauty of the glass that we use every day? Can you imagine your life without this versatile material? How has glass been used in industry and exploration, in our homes, in our clothing and our daily tasks during the past two centuries? Washington State History Museum celebrates the many uses of glass in this exhibition.

Jacob Lawrence

Collections Selections: Jacob Lawrence
Through January 20, 2019

Collections Selections is an ongoing series of exhibitions featuring artifacts from the Historical Society's collections. Jacob Lawrence is one of America's most reknowned painters, and we are honored to present his works from our collection. The Jacob Lawrence "George Bush" series is rarely on view, for preservation purposes. See it now along with artifacts from the Simmons/Bush wagon train and their early lives in Tumwater. Learn more about Washington's first African American settler. More here ... 

Image credit: Jacob Lawrence, No. 3. The hardest part of the journey is yet to come--the Continental Divide, stunned by the magnitude of roaring rivers, 1973 (detail), casein tempera and gouache, 31½ × 39½ inches, series piece. Collection of Washington State Historical Society. Image use courtesy ARS.

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Make/Do: A History of Creative Reuse
Through December 6, 2018
Before upcycling was 'a thing,' it was the thing. 

This fascinating exhibition focuses on this cyclical nature of our relationship with objects. Washington’s response to this relationship has been driven by several factors and influences—culture, geography, and industry, among others. These influences have given Washington makers and their objects a distinct character. 

Washington’s innovators will inspire you as you wind your way through objects made from reused plastics, metal, wood, paper, glass, shell, horn, and other natural and man-made materials. See 180 items created through reuse including a crazy quilt made from the scraps of an opera singer’s dresses, a seashell-turned-pipe, a bright yellow dress fashioned from used 'caution' tape, construction blocks created by upcycling drywall waste, an artful robot crafted from scrap metal, and so much more. Exercise your creativity in the makerspace sponsored by Earthwise Architectural Salvage, too. More here ...

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Sleight of Hand: Magic and Spiritualism in the Early 20th Century
Through January 20, 2019

An art of deception and wonder, magic has been practiced throughout human history as a means not only to entertain but also to enlighten. We think of magic in the modern era as a brief amusement, yet in times past, this craft was used in places as disparate as religious ceremonies, public speaking, and warfare. Magic has also served as a platform for the voiceless to speak, as seen in the connections between spiritualism and the suffragette movement.

This exhibition showcases the magicians who came through the Pacific Northwest. It tells the intriguing story of how magic has impacted society as a whole, giving the discipline historical significance while entertaining and engaging the public. Come and be amazed! More here ... 

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Washington: My Home

“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. Through artifacts and oral histories, visitors are immersed in dramatic stories of travel, 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. It is an opportunity to consider migration and immigration through the experiences of diverse individuals who, over time, have come to call the Evergreen State home. More here ...


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.

Learn more ...