Events & Programs

Purchase Tickets

See all upcoming events in the Explore It! quarterly newsletter. 
Unless otherwise noted, these programs are included with admission to the History Museum or $5 for program-only admission. Free to WSHS Members. For more information, contact Dave Beals at 253-798-5879 or 


Witness to Wartime: Takuichi Fujii Exhibition Opening and Gallery Talk
Saturday, September 16, 2017Witness to Wartime
2:00 PM

Join curator Barbara Johns for the opening of an exhibition of Takuichi Fujii's artwork. A resident of Seattle, Fujii was incarcerated first at the Puyallup Assembly Center and then Minidoka Relocation Center during World War II along with thousands of other Japanese American citizens. The exhibition includes work from his illustrated diary as well as sculpture capturing this unique and haunting moment in American history.

This program is included with general admission.

History Happy Hour: Tacoma
at the Swiss Restaurant & PubHistory Happy Hour: Tacoma
1904 Jefferson Ave
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
6:00 PM

We're back again with the City of Tacoma's Historic Preservation Office and Tacoma Historical Society to bring you the most intriguing, exciting, and outright weird trivia about your city and state!

Test your knowledge and compete for prizes and the Washington trivia throne in this all-ages trivia night!


Immigrant Detention: Histories, Hopes, and Current Realities in a Welcoming City
Thursday, September 21, 2017Welcoming Week Program
5:30 PM

September 15-24, 2017 is National Welcoming Week, when communities across the country strengthen cross-cultural relationships and renew their commitments to welcoming immigrants and refugees. In that spirit, Tacoma Community House and the Washington State History Museum are hosting a community dialogue, Immigrant Detention: Histories, Hopes, and Current Realities in a Welcoming City

This event will  assess Tacoma’s status as a Welcoming City in light of the Northwest Detention Center’s presence in the Tide Flats, drawing perspectives from national and local history, community panelists, and facilitated discussions. 

Join us for light refreshments and this opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Admission to this program and the museum are free during Third Thursday hours, 3-8pm.


Glasnost TashkentPreview Party
Glasnost & Goodwill: Citizen Diplomacy in the Northwest
Thursday, October 5, 2017
5:30 - 8:00 PM

Be among the first to see this fascinating exhibition before it opens to the public! Hear from esteemed guest speaker, Dr. Richard Scheuerman, Professor Emeritus at Seattle Pacific University, about the remarkable 200 year history of friendship between the people of Russia and the United States. Enjoy Savory hors d'oeuvres that complement the theme of the evening. A cash bar will be available.

Experience the stories of fellow Northwesterners whose people-to-people connections helped thaw the Cold War. Revisit the spectacular Goodwill Games, learn intriguing details from the Mount Everest Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb, and be inspired by grass-roots diplomatic action that began in Washington State. 
Free for Washington State Historical Society members. 
$15.00 for nonmembers.

Purchase tickets here.
Questions? Email,  or call 253-798-5894.

Scholarly Selections: "Leadership Courage"
Thursday, October 19, 2017Scholarly Selections
6:30 PM

University of Washington Tacoma adjunct faculty and career organization development professional Joe Macias, Jr. explores how ordinary individuals can exemplify courageous leadership personally, professionally, and even on a global scale. 

Using historical case studies, Macias will delve into his framework for how to step up and lead when the path forward is uncertain. 

Admission to Scholarly Selections lectures and the museum is free during Third Thursdays, from 3–8pm.


UFO Night
Thursday, October 26, 2017UFO Night
7:00 PM

This October we are celebrating the 70th Anniversary of two of history's most notable UFO sightings with a 21+ evening of beer tastings and all things flying saucers.

The Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting and the Maury Island incident both took place in Washington in 1947. These two events gave rise to the terms "flying saucer" and "men in black" and kicked off a craze of sightings that year, which included the Roswell incident.

The evening event includes beer tastings with Three Magnets Brewing Co., a showing of the film "The Maury Island Incident" with the filmmakers The Maury Island Incident, UFO-related crafting with the The Museum of Flight, open exhibit galleries, and more.

Admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and includes a commemorative glass and two drink tickets.

Register here.


Washington at War: The Evergreen State in WWII
Veterans Day ProgramVeterans Day event
Saturday, November 11, 2017
2:00 PM

One-hundred years ago in 1917, the US entered The Great War to fight alongside our European allies. Washington’s homefront experience had begun long before the country entered the war, however, and continued afterward. 

Renowned Northwest historian, Lorraine McConaghy, provides an immersive look into this dramatic period of immigration, wartime industrialization, women’s rights, social change, radical labor, epidemic disease, and worldwide turmoil.

Also on display will be a one-day-only pop up exhibition of WSHS’s new traveling exhibit, Washington’s Great War.



Loyal Opposition Curator Talk
Thursday, November 16, 2017Loyal Opposition Gallery Talk
5:30 PM

Washington photojournalist George P. Hickey gives an in-gallery talk about the images that represent a body of work that he recently donated to the Washington State Historical Society. Topics covered in the exhibition and gallery talk range from the WTO protests that took place in Seattle in the late 1990’s to protests about Animal Rights, Gay Pride, and Anti-war sentiments. 

Join us to hear about Hickey’s process and experiences as a freelance photographer and a photographer’s thrill when that “decisive moment” presents itself.

Admission to the talk and the museum are free during Third Thursday free hours, 2-8pm.



Scholarly Selections: "Comparing Representations of Fathers, Sexuality, and Struggle in Popular Culture"
Thursday, November 16, 2017Scholarly Selections
6:30 PM

What does it mean to be a father in today’s world? In the past, people have often perceived parenting as a matter of the private sphere. Now the boundary between public and private life has eroded in various ways. 

Dr. Ed Chamberlain provides a discussion of these experiences and the connections between fatherhood, sexuality, and struggle including the challenges faced by gay fathers, famous dads, and parents who are economically disadvantaged.

Admission to Scholarly Selections lectures and the museum is free during Third Thursdays, from 3–8pm.



Washington Sports Trivia Night
Tuesday, December 5, 2017Washington Sports Trivia
7:00 PM

To celebrate Washington sports history and the History Museum's upcoming exhibit Glasnost & Goodwill: Citizen Diplomacy in the Northwest, we're partnering with the Shanaman Sports Museum to bring you the most intriguing, exciting, and peculiar history of sports in our state.

Bring a team or play on your own for prizes and bragging rights.



22nd Annual Model Train Festival
Friday, December 22, 2017 - Monday, January 1, 2018Model Train Festival
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 25
Pictures with Santa 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM, Dec. 22 and Dec. 23

This enchanting event is a wintertime favorite at the History Museum. Treat your family and friends to a journey in miniature as you wander among tiny trains and intricate model railroad layouts throughout the museum. Learn about how railroads influenced the growth and development of Washington and see train-related artifacts from the region's past. Visit the activity room to play with toy trains or build your own Lego train creations. The free Santa phtoos will be emailed, compliments of the Washington State Historical Society.



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