Events & Programs

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See all upcoming events in theExplore It! quarterly newsletter. Unless noted otherwise, programs are included with museum admission, or FREE to WSHS Members. For more information, contact Molly Wilmoth at 253-798-5926 or

Write253 Pop Up Print Shop at Washington State History Museum  Pop Up Print Shop calendar image

Have you ever seen a hand-operated printing press in action? You can do just that at the Washington State History Museum’s Write253 Pop Up Print Shop on select dates through April 2020. You’ll even get a chance to operate a small press in the shop and make a print to take home.

A printmaker will be on hand in the Write 253 Pop Up Print Shop to facilitate visitors in working a press to make a small free print of their own. The artwork will be set up ahead of time, and different themes will be featured on different pop up dates. 

Next Pop Up dates -  See how the presses operate and make a small print yourself to take home (free)!

  • Third Thursday, December 19, 3:00-8:00 PM during the museum's free Third Thursday hours.
  • December 21, 5:00-7:30 for Member Appreciation Night. Make a special train-themed print! (This is a members-only event.)

Limited edition prints will be available for purchase, with proceeds going to support Write253's literacy programs. 

Schedule: Click here for dates, times and details about the Write253 Pop Up Print Shop.

Volunteer OrientationVolunteer Orientation
Saturday, December 7, 10:30 AM-12:30 PM
Sign up on EventBrite

Do you know someone who would enjoy gaining volunteer experience at the History Museum? Please let them know our next volunteer orientation will be offered on Saturday, December 7 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Guests will learn about what positions are available, the benefits of volunteering, and can ask questions to determine if they and the museum's opportunities are a good match.

Intrigued? Sign up here:

This two-hour orientation is required for all prospective volunteers and will cover:

  • Volunteer opportunities available at the museum
  • Training on positive volunteer interactions with museum visitors
  • Overview of museum policies (dress code, scheduling, etc.). 

Eligibility: Individual volunteers must be 13 or older. We also have a "junior historian" volunteer option available for children ages 8-12. This is a team effort: The child volunteers along with their adult (18+) relative/guardian. Both child and adult must attend required training, and the adult volunteer must be present at all times with the child volunteer. 

Family Saturday: Washington's Sweet History
Saturday, December 14, 1:00-3:00 PM
Included with admission

Learn more about our state's rich candy history at this drop-in, all-ages event. Try to identify different local candies in a blind taste test. Build holiday-themed candy art and stocking stuffers to take home.

24th Annual Model Train FestivalMTF 2019
December 20, 2019-January 1, 2020, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, closed Dec. 24 and 25, open Jan. 1
Included with admission, FREE for members
Note: Discounts and library passes are not valid during Model Train Festival

Bring your family, friends, and the railroad enthusiasts in your life to see this showcase of the most spectacular and detailed model railroad scenes in the Pacific Northwest! Train clubs from throughout Western Washington will set up their amazing layouts throughout the museum. You can also see the largest permanent public model train layout in Washington, and drive the freight train simulator. Parents and guardians take a break in the South Sound Activity Room, where kids can get hands-on with toy trains, Lincoln Logs and Legos while you rest your feet and peruse a magazine on the sidelines. 
Santa will be on hand for free digital photos from 11:00 AM-3:00 PM on Dec. 21, 22, and 23. 
Sunday, December 22 is also Teen Tix day! Show your Teen Tix card and get in for just $5.00.

CLOSED December 24 and 25. OPEN January 1.

Details at

Special Member Appreciation Night at Model Train FestivalMTF 2019
Saturday, December 21, 5:00-7:30 PM
History Museum
FREE, Members Only 

Last year was so fun, we decided to do it again! The crowds of the day go home at 5:00 but the trains will still be running for our members. Come and enjoy an evening of special access to the Model Train Festival! Enjoy light hors d’oeuvres, sweet holiday treats and warm beverages.

Santa will visit for photos from 5:30-7:30 PM. Take part in hands-on activities for the whole family, and other holiday surprises!

Members, watch your mailbox for an invitation in the coming weeks. 

Third ThursdaySkansie
January 16, 2020
Free admission 3:00-8:00 PM
Scholarly Selections 6:30

Join us for a Scholoarly Selections presentation about The Skansie Shipbuilding Company. The Skansie family settled in Gig Harbor and became renowned shipbuilders, producing over two-hundred wooden vessels known for their quality and craftsmanship. The Skansies not only made their mark on maritime history but represent how immigrants turned patriotic citizens contributed to the Pacific Northwest. In this talk Nathan Patrick, UWT History B.A., 2019, presents his original research on the local Skansie Shipbuilding Company. Scholarly Selections is a partnership with the University of Washington Tacoma. 

Additional programming on this Third Thursday will relate to the exhibitrion Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth.

Image: The Wollochet was a diesel ferry built in 1925 by the Skansie Brothers in Gig Harbor. Washington State Historical Society Catalog ID Number: 1957.64.0.10.GL 

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.Jan18_Martin-Luther-King-Day_188x125
Monday, January 20, 2020
10:00 AM-5:00 PM
FREE admission

Join us in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with performances presented by Tacoma Arts Live and activities throughout the day. See the exhibition Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truthand learn about other African American men who have changed culture and history in our nation. Admission is free all day long. Check back for schedule and details!

History After Hours: Shipwrecks! Shipwrecks calendar
Thursday, February 13, 7:00-10:00 PM
Members $20, non-members in advance $25 or $30 at the door

Ahoy! Do all things lost at sea pique your interest? Hear dramatic shipwreck stories and learn about searches, recoveries and discoveries in the Pacific Northwest. Explore the exhibition Unforgiving Waters: Shipwrecks of the Pacific Northwest. Hear tales presented by organizations from the maritime community.  Games, activities and beverages aplenty. 


A Gallery Game for the Whole Family

Designed for four to eight players, MUSEO is a Bingo-style game of discovery in the Great Hall of Washington History. Ask for a packet at the information desk and let the sleuthing begin.

More for Kids

Treasure Hunting

In the Great Hall

Ever seen a gold nugget, a plutonium core, or an ox yoke? Keen-eyed young visitors are encouraged to pick up a treasure hunter’s challenge at the information desk and explore the Great Hall’s not-so-hidden treasures of Washington pictured there. A fun, self-directed activity for everyone.

More about the Great Hall

Model Railroad Operators' Hours

FIRST SATURDAY of every month
11 AM - 4PM

The Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers (PSMRE), the all-volunteer organization that operates the History Museum's permanent model railroad exhibit, holds a special Operators' Hours event on the first Saturday of every month. Operators' Hours is an opportunity to watch the masters at work and ask questions of the model railroad experts!

Model Train Festival