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. 

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

McMenamins Elks Temple History Pub:McMenamins History Pub calendar
Storm Warning: Historic Weather in the Evergreen State with Feliks Banel and Humanities Washington
November 5, doors open at 5:30 PM, event 7:00-8:30 PM,
McMenamins Elks Temple at 565 Broadway, Tacoma
FREE and open to the public, all ages welcome.

Local broadcaster and historian Feliks Banel explores our region’s darkest weather days and most infamous storms. With archival photos, radio, and TV clips, Banel takes us back in time to hear stories of those who survived some of the worst Pacific Northwest weather in recorded history. 

Banel explores how these storms can revive our shared humanity. Frightening weather can bind communities together to share resources, commiserate, and protect each other. Participants may share their own memories of how they survive being snowed in, washed out, or left without power in the wake of a big storm—and why we remember those moments for the rest of our lives.

About the speaker: 

Feliks Banel is a writer and producer, and serves as editor of COLUMBIA, the quarterly magazine of the Washington State Historical Society. He has been a host and contributor for KIRO Radio on matters of Northwest history and culture for many years; he created the history series This NOT Just In for KUOW Public Radio; and he produces documentaries for the Seattle Channel.

About history pub: 

The Washington State Historical Society partners with McMenamins Elks Temple for History Pub on the first Tuesday of each month (excluding December). Learn about a new topic in Pacific Northwest history each time! These events are eligible for McMenamins passport stamps. Beverages and pizza are available for purchase in the Spanish Ballroom, and food and drinks may be brought in from other Elks Temple restaurants. Enjoy the Spanish Ballroom and learn while you sip and savor. Enter the code HISTORY2019 to receive a 15% discount on rooms for the evening, courtesy of McMenamins.

Family Saturday: Old FASHIONed
Saturday, November 9, 1:00=3:00 PM
Included with admission

Explore the exhibition Little Black Dress: A Fashion Evolution to learn about fabrics and materials used in clothing during different decades. Use your inspiration to create your own wearable fashion item!

Honoring Veterans Day
Sunday, November 10, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM
Free admission for veterans (with ID) and up to five family members

Join us for a special Veterans Day commemoration focused on the history of female service members. This event continues WSHS's #YearOfTheWoman honoring the 2020 Suffrage Centennial. 

Scholarly Selections: Labor Wars of the Northwest
Third Thursday, November 21, 6:30 PM

The new film Labor Wars of the Northwest covers three decades of labor strife at the turn of the 20th century. Come and see this one-hour documentary, which reveals the plight of working class men and women who battled for better wages, reasonable hours, and workplace safety. A panel discussion will follow the film.  

Free Third Thursday
November 21, 3:00-8:00 PM

The Washington State History Museum is open FREE to all every Third Thursday from 3:00-8:00 PM, generously sponsored by Columbia Bank.

History After Hours: Bootleggers Ballcalendar History after Hours logo
Thursday, December 5, 7:00–10:00 PM
Ages 21+ program
$15 for members, $20  for non-members with advance tickets, 
or $25 at the door

Celebrate Repeal Day at Washington State History Museum’s own version of a speakeasy, The Blind Marmot. Drink from your very own History After Hours souvenir glass and be merry with tunes provided by The Happy Sinners

Just be sure you don’t get caught by the fuzz in the bootleggers’ obstacle course. Steve Edmiston will spin a yarn on the infamous northwest rumrunner Roy Olmstead. Enjoy two beverages included with your ticket, and get a last look at the exhibit Little Black Dress on its final night of exhibition!  

You'll be able to run a printing press and make a print to take home in our Write 253 Pop Up Print Shop, or buy a special limited edition print to support this terrific non-profit organization that promotes literacy in Tacoma.

And, pick up some holiday gifts, too, at the Bootleggers' Silent Auction. Proceeds support our History Fund!

As always, your History After Hours tickets include two beverages. Select from tasty craft brews provided by Three Magnets Brewing Co., elegant Washington wines provided by Chateau Ste. Michelle, and various sodas.

Get your tickets here!

Purchase Tickets


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 Festival
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.


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