Events & Programs

See all upcoming events in Explore It! 

Purchase Tickets



Exhibit Openings:


THE AMERICAN SOLDIER: A Photographic Tribute (Opens June 20)

 Invitation image







IN THE SPIRIT: Contemporary Native Arts Exhibit (Opens July 16)

In the Spirit column image

Thursday Night at the Museums!

Can't visit the museum during the work day or on the weekend? No problem! We're open late until 8pm every Thursday night in March, April, May, and June. Avoid the evening traffic, spend some quality time with your loved ones, and visit one of the participating museums -- the History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, and LeMay - America's Car Museum.
Regular admission applies, except on 3rd Thursdays when admission is free at the History Museum from 2 - 8pm, and at Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass from 5 - 8pm. 
History Museum Thursday Night at the Museums Schedule: (Times and Themes TBA)
  • 1st Thursdays: Family Night with activities provided by the Children's Museum of Tacoma (Activity from 5 - 7pm)
  • 2nd Thursdays: Trivia Night with coffee provided by Anthem Coffee & Tea (Trivia from 6 - 7pm)
  • 3rd Thursdays: Scholarly Selections with UW Tacoma (Presentation starts at 6:30pm)
  • 4th Thursdays: Curator's Corner with museum curators (From 6:30 - 7pm)
  • 5th Thursday in April: Movie Night! THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER (Starts at 6pm)


Exhibit Programs:

Loving Hands At Home

March 28sewing
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission 

Live models in period clothing and clothing expert Kate Slaminko share the history of Western fashion and sewing. See techniques from the different fashion eras featured in the exhibit Pomp & Circumstance. Learn what has influenced clothing design and sewing through history and hear what it means for something to have been made by, "loving hands at home."

After the program, tour the exhibit with its curator, Jennifer Kilmer, Director of the Washington State Historical Society. 

Clothing shown in this program is not part of the WSHS collection.

For more informaiton, contact Susan Rohrer at 



Ring of Fire Family Camp

volcano camp

10:30am - 2pm
April 1
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission
Pre-registration Encouraged 
Hands-on volcano activities for visitors of all ages. Hear legends of volcanoes iwth Native American storyteller Harvest Moon. To pre-register, email 

Children's Museum at the History Museum -- BUGS!

5 - 7pmChildren
April 2
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission
The Children's Museum will entertain families with craft projects about bugs! Kids can explore beans filled with cocoa bean shells to discover the bugs hidden beneath and will use a variety of craft techniques to make their very own one-of-a-kind Rollie Pollie Bugs. Bring the family and enjoy together time at the History Museum! 

Year of the Volcano: Commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the 1980 Mount St. Helens Eruption

11am - 4pm
May 16LITS limited poster
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission 
Artists, authors, and volcanologists join us as we commemorate the legendary eruption of Mount St. Helens and the culmination of the run of Living in the Shadows: Volcanoes of Washington.
  •  Atlatl expert Larry Nelson will conduct a hands-on demonstration of an atlatl
  • Journalist and Mount St. Helens icon Andre Stephankowsky will recount some of the most memorable people and events from his years of reporting on the volcano
  • John Ewert, Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS - Cascades Volcano Obervatory will eliver the State of the Washington Cascades Address describing the recent activities of the state's volcanoes 
Don't forget to check out the Museum Store for a variety of souvenirs from Mount St. Helens including ash, jewelry, ash carvings, Living in the Shadows t-shirts, and the Year of the Volcano commemorative poster. All purchases support the mission of the Washington State History Museum.

Gallery Talks (First Friday of Every Month at 3pm)


Little Ernest 1

Gallery Talks are your opportunity to meet exhibit curators and learn little-known information about our exhibits or get a behind-the-scenes perspective. 

These programs are included with admission to the History Museum.

Artwork by Mike Cressy.


History Speaks (Last Tuesday of Every month at 12pm)


  • March 31: "Gypsy & June: Causing Havoc in the Great Depression and Beyond" with Gwen Whiting. Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister June Havoc were made immortal in the Broadway play and subsequent movie Gypsy. Their real lives, however, were far more colorful than anything Hollywood could dream up. Take a backstage peek into history from the Great Depression to the Red Scare and learn more about mayhem, mystery, and possibly murder.  
  • April 28: "Mountain Fever" with Jim Ross. An old-fashioned storytelling of the exciting and often humorous stories of the first two recorded climbs of Mount Rainier.
  • May 26: "Fu-Go: The Curious History of Japan's Balloon Bomb Attack on America" with Ross Coen. An investigation of the little-known WWII bombing campaign Imperial Japan launched against the United States.
  • June 30: "The Rich and Varied Legacy of William O. Douglas" with Tom R. Hulst. An examination of the impact of William O. Douglas's legacy on the ideas of privacy, pilgrimage, and place.

These programs are included with admission to the History Museum. 


Scholarly Selections (Third Thursday of Every Month at 6:30pm)

Scholarly Selections
  • March 19: "Framing Disaster: How News Media Covered the 'Twilight Tribe' and the Lower Elwha Klallam People in their Struggle for Environmental Justice," with Ellen Moore, lecturer at UW Tacoma
  • April 16: "Local Tribal Resistance Movements of the late 1960s" with Danica Miller, lecturer at UWT
  • May 15: "A History of Bird Illustration, with Special Reference to Contemporary Bird Artists of the Pacific Northwest" with Vanessa Hunt, lecturer at UWT

These programs are free and open to the public, and are presented in partnership with University of Washington Tacoma. 

Special Programs & Events:


"Planning Your Will: Not as Scary as You Think"

3:30pmestate planning
April 30
History Museum
Free, Museum Admission not Required 
Getting your estate in order is not as scary as you might think. This program will teach you how to prepare or update your estate plan. Tacoma estate planning attorney Amy Lewis will discuss the essential documents your plan should include and guide you on getting started. 
For more information, contact Sue Loiland, Planned Giving Manager, at 253-798-5877 or 

124th Annual Membership Meeting: June 20

Save the Date! Members will join us for lunch and a program featuring a state-of-the-organization addressannual meeting
by Director Jennifer Kilmer, awards presentations, and an insightful lecture. Members can expect a formal invitation with additional details by mail this spring. Reservations are highly recommended.
For more information, contact Laura Berry, Development Director, at 253-798-5899 or 

Tacoma History Hike

June 28
Registration Opens in AprilHistory Hike Logo
Grab your sneakers, leash up the dog, and strap the kids into their strollers! It's almost time again to explore downtown Tacoma in an urban scavenger hunt for historical trivia. The event is open to everyone -- coworkers, families, friends, WSHS members, non-members, individuals, teams. Pre-registration guarantees you a free t-shirt. Walk-up registration is also available. Learn more!


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