Events & Programs

Purchase Tickets

See all upcoming events in the Explore 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

Agents of Change Opening Day Event Agents of Change calendar image
Sunday April 28, 1:30-3:00 PM

What do Carrie Brownstein, Nancy Pearl, and Marcie Sillman have in common? They are all from Washington! They’re all in the public eye. And they're all part of the exhibition Agents of Change: 20 Remarkable Jewish Women of Washington State, opening April 28 at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. 

Featuring women who have made their mark in a wide array of fields including arts, activism, athletics, education, business, diplomacy, law, politics, religion, and philanthropy, Agents of Change shows the breadth and depth of the contributions Jewish women are making every day in our state and our world. This exhibition was developed by the Washington State Jewish Historical Society in honor of their 50th anniversary in 2018.

Opening Day Events: 

1:30-3:00 Member's Reception • 4th Floor Mezzanine:
WSHS and WSHJS members are invited to mingle and enjoy refreshments 

1:45 Gallery Talk • 3rd floor gallery:
Open to all, included with museum admission. 
Hear from museum directors and special guests. Learn about the inspiration behind Agents of Change in the gallery.

History Pub: Prison Break - McNeil Island Escapes!Calendar History Pub logo McMenamins
Tuesday May 7, 7:00-8:30 PM
McMenamins Elks Temple
566 Broadway, Tacoma
FREE and open to the public, all ages welcome. 

McMenamins Elks Temple presents the Washington State History Museum's lead curator Gwen Whiting with a fascinating recounting of the many escapes from McNeil Island Prison! Go "behind the scenes" with Gwen too as she talks about her visits to this off-limits locale to conduct research for the exhibition Unlocking McNeil's Past. Sip a fresh pint and listen to these fascinating true stories in the beautifully restored Spanish Ballroom, featuring incredible hand-painted murals! Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

History After Hours: (In)Famous Washington2 inch InFamous
Thursday May 9, 7:00–10:00 PM
Ages 21+ program
$15 for members, $20  for non-members with advance tickets,
or $25 at the door

Discover stories about notorious Washingtonians! Learn about Willie Keil (a.k.a. the Pickled Pioneer), burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee and her director/actress/dancer sister June Havoc, and more! Spin the wheel to pick what infamous tales will be told! Tickets include two beverages from Three Magnets Brewing and Chateau Ste. Michelle, a souvenir logo stemless wine glass, games, and access to current exhibitions. 

Get your tickets:

Third Thursday Evening 
Thursday May 16
FREE admission 3:00-8:00 PM
Scholarly Selections lecture at 6:30

Enjoy all of our exhibitions! And listen to a free lecture if you like, too!

Scholarly Selections:
From Emily Dickinson to Lucinda Williams: Women Speaking Truth to Power through
Poetry and MusicScholarly Selections
Thursday May 16, 6:30 PM
FREE and open to the public

Join UW Tacoma Senior Lecturer Nicole Blair for a discussion of the roots of Americana music by women, focusing on two examples: Emily Dickinson and Lucinda Williams. Blair will argue that poets like Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, and Emily Dickinson, paved the way for songwriters like Brandi Carlile, Rhiannon Giddens, and Lucinda Williams. She will discuss how Americana music provides female singer-songwriters with a way to express their lived experiences, which not only empowers women, but uplifts society as a whole.

Day of Remembrancecalendar Day of Remembrance cranes
Thursday May 16, 3:00-8:00 PM
FREE and open to the public

Learn about the forced incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during WWII after President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The event is free and all ages are welcome.

Learn to make origami folded paper cranes, a symbol of peace, to carry during the commemorative walk to Union Station later in the evening. Experience history through the Living Voices performance Within the Silence, the story of a teenage girl sent to a US concentration camp.Participate in a Town Hall discussion  about an upcoming permanent exhibition focused on Japanese American history across Washington related to Executive Order 9066. 

To close the Day of Remembrance, Tamiko Nimura and Tacoma historian Michael Sullivan will lead a community procession to Union Station. Remarks will be made in front of the former railway station to remember the families who reported there on their way to being forcibly incarcerated in federal camps during World War II. 

Event Schedule: 

  • 3:00-7:00 PM  Paper crane folding in the Grand Lobby
  • 5:00-6:00 PM  Living Voices presents “Within the Silence” in the auditorium
  • 6:00-6:45 PM  Town Hall discussion moderated by Eileen Yamada Lamphere in auditorium. Learn about and share your ideas for the upcoming Washington State History Museum exhibition of Japanese American history in our state.
  • 7:00-7:30 PM  Commemorative procession from museum’s outdoor amphitheater to Union Station led by Tamiko Nimura and Michael Sullivan

Family Saturdays: All Aboard!Family Saturday trains
Saturday June 8, 1:00-3:00 PM
FREE for members or included with admission

Does your child love trains? See our model train, play with toy trains, and learn about Washington’s rich railroad history at this family-friendly event. Join other families in the galleries with a museum facilitator. Make something of your own to take home!

History Happy Hour Trivia: Tacomacalendar Trivia Night
Wednesday June 19, 6:00-8:00 PM
The Swiss Restaurant & Pub, 1904 Jefferson Avenue, Tacoma
FREE to play, all ages welcome!

Test your history trivia knowledge with the Washington State Historical Society, City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Office, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, and Tacoma Historical Society. Facts, fun, and prizes aplenty! Team up or battle on your own for the title of History Trivia Champ. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Third Thursday Evening 
Thursday June 20
FREE admission 3:00-8:00 PM

Enjoy all of our exhibitions! Kick off your summer with IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts.

IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts In The Spirit logo for calendar
Exhibition Opening and Artist Awards Ceremony

Thursday June 20, 7:00 PM
FREE and open to the public

Now in its 14th year, IN  THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition is a summer favorite. This juried exhibition features work in a variety of mediums created by Native artists from throughout the Northwest and beyond. 

Celebrate the artists and and honor the award winners at a special ceremony on opening night. Hear from the artists and learn about the their inspirations, motivations and techniques. Be among the first to enjoy the 2019 juried exhibition in the gallery. Don't forget to vote for the People's Choice awards!

Also, join us for a FREE In The Spirit Northwest Native Festival in partnership with Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass on August 10. Details to come!

History Happy Hour Trivia: Olympiacalendar Trivia Night
Three Magnets Brewing, Barrel Room, 600 Franklin St. SE, #105, Olympia

FREE to play, All ages welcome!

Join us at the Three Magnets Taproom and Eatery for a spirited night of trivia with our partners from the Washington State Archives. Bring a team or compete solo for the title of History Trivia Champion. Did we mention there will be prizes?!! 

Tacoma Museum District STEAM CampSummer camp calendar image
Mon. July 8 – Fri. July 12, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Pre-camp care starts at 8:00 AM and after-camp care is available until 5:30 PM at the History Museum.
For students entering grades 4-6.

Explore science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) in the Tacoma Museum District! Each day starts and ends at the Washington State History Museum, and campers will also build, experiment and create at the Tacoma Art Museum, the Museum of Glass, Foss Waterway Seaport, and LeMay-America’s Car Museum. Find out how architects design museums. Learn how exhibits are created and displayed. Make your own museum model to take home, inspired by a day at each museum. 

Register at Tacoma Art Museum’s website. WSHS members receive a member discount; select the “member” rate when you register. Limited scholarships are also available.

Click here for further details.

Third Thursday Evening 
Thursday July 18
FREE admission 3:00-8:00 PM

Enjoy all of our exhibitions. Stop at Anthem Cafe to enjoy a beverage outdoors and take in the view of the museum district!


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