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Know Before You Go

Please talk with your students and chaperones to set expectations and share the following information before your visit to the museum. We know this can take time, but it will have a real impact on your class’s experience. We have limited staff available during field trips and often have several different classes and members of the public visiting the museum at the same time. 
 
Self-Guided Visit Activities 
  • If you are going on a self-guided field trip, please bring an activity to support your students’ learning in the museum. Please use an activity provided in our Field Guide or create your own activity sheet. 
    • If you create your own activity, please provide an answer key or extra copy to our staff at the main floor admissions counter. This will better enable us to assist your students in the galleries.
    • The “Natural Settings” and “Encounters” sections of the Great Hall have recently been renovated. Activity sheets from the Field Guide for both spaces no longer apply.  
  • Find out what special exhibitions will be on display during your visit at: http://www.washingtonhistory.org/visit/wshm/exhibits/ 
History Lab Student Groups
  • If you plan on a History Lab field trip, prepare by placing students in chaperone groups based on their complementary strengths, as these groups will work together in the Lab. 
Chaperones 
  • We strongly encourage at least one chaperone for every five students. 
  • Chaperones under the guidance of the lead teacher are ultimately responsible for their students while inside the Washington State History Museum and must stay with all their students at all times. 
  • To ensure your chaperones are as prepared as possible, please print out and customize our chaperone guide with your group’s schedule. Please also share this webpage with them.
  • We encourage groups to create their own identifying tags or other feature to wear during your visit. You can print out this template for students to make their own tags. We will give museum-specific tags to teachers and chaperones. Many educators choose to create tags with school names rather than students' first names, as sharing names may cause safety concerns in public spaces.
  • Taking kids on a field trip can be really fun! Please make the most of it by exploring the museum with your student group and use cell phones sparingly.
  • Please take the time to review our conduct policy so chaperones and students understand all behavioral expectations while attending a field trip. 
Transportation & Parking
  • We have limited parking for cars and vans, which are subject to current parking rates
  • The museum has a bus loading and unloading zone located behind the building in our lower parking lot. However, buses need to park off-site unless special arrangements have been made. We recommend parking at the nearby Tacoma Dome. Get directions and current parking pricing
  • Parent drivers will need to pay for parking. Get information about parking fees and a map.
  • Enter through the Amphitheater entrance. You will be met by museum staff, who will guide you to our Auditorium for a brief orientation. 
Bags & Backpacks
  • You will need to drop off your backpacks, bags, purses, and jackets outside the amphitheater. Chaperones may also use the lockers provided in the Coat Room on the main floor of the museum. Backpacks are not permitted into the gallery spaces.
  • Teachers are allowed to carry a backpack with medical supplies and prescriptions if necessary. Please alert a museum staff member who will provide you with a medical tag to attach to the bag. 
Lunch
  • You will be assigned a location and time for lunch prior to your arrival. 
  • The museum does not have a cafeteria, so chaperones should pack a lunch as well. 
  • You will leave your lunches on a designated cart for consumption at your class’s lunch time. Since lunches must be dropped off at the beginning of the field trip, we recommend that you place the sack lunches and beverages in large boxes marked with the school, group and/or classroom teachers' names. Please do not leave lunches in cars, on the bus, or in backpacks/bags. 
Payment
  • Have you explored payment options on our Field Trip Costs and Scholarships webpage
  • Please pay admission at the museum after your group’s orientation.
    • When you arrive, be prepared to give the museum a headcount of students, chaperones, classroom teachers, and additional adults. 
    • Bring payment to the admission desk in the main lobby on the 3rd floor. We can process cash, check, credit card and purchase order. 
      • If you bring cash, please use large bills and have it counted ahead of arrival.
      • If you plan to use a purchase order, bring a copy on the day of the field trip and email it to schoolprograms@wshs.wa.gov or fax it to 253.272.9518 prior to your visit. 
Museum Store
  • Consider whether you would like to allow your class to go into the museum store. Many teachers are OK with their students making this stop, while many others tell their students they are not permitted in the store.
  • If you permit your class within the store, please notify your class and chaperones of the following guidelines. The items we carry span a wide array of categories, including a large children’s section with many items to touch and play with. While we encourage play and wish you all to have a happy visit, please keep the following in mind: 
  • Groups of five students must have an adult chaperone monitoring behavior at all times. 
  • No more than 20 students in the store at a time. 
  • If you pick it up, please put it back where you found it. Handle items with respect. If you see a broken, misplaced, and otherwise mishandled item, please report it to staff. 
Behavior in the Exhibits
  • Please adhere to the museum visitor conduct policy at all times. 
  • Please help make sure your students: 
    • Use quiet voices while indoors.
    • Keep food, drink, and gum in the lunchroom. (This includes bottled water.)
    • Only touch parts of the exhibit that are meant to be touched. You will set off an alarm if you try to touch artifacts behind glass or rope. 
    • Turn flash off of cameras. 
    • Learn and have fun.