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   


Collections Selections: Jacob LawrenceJacob Lawrence events page
Opens Saturday, October 13, 2018, on view through Sunday, January 20, 2019

Jacob Lawrence, one of America’s most celebrated artists, moved to Seattle from New York in 1970. Shortly thereafter, in 1972, Lawrence was commissioned by the State Capital Museum to create a set of narrative paintings about the saga of pioneer George Washington Bush, the first African American pioneer to settle in the Evergreen State. For preservation purposes, this work is rarely on view; join us in appreciating it in the gallery this fall.

Jacob Lawrence, No. 4. Christmas, 1844--Fort Vancouver is a temporary halting place before they venture to Puget Sound Country, 1973, series piece. Collection of Washington State Historical Society. Image use courtesy ARS. 


History After Hours: Ghost MuseumGhost Museum events page
Thursday, October 25, 7:00-10:00 PM
An ages 21+ program
$20 pre-registration, $25 at the door

Ready for some historically creepy fun? Grab a beer or a glass of wine before exploring the spookiest ghost stories from around Washington State! Lewis County Historical Museum’s director Jason Mattson will be here to share about paranormal occurrences and the county’s local ghost tours. You’ll also hear from paranormal investigators and learn how they approach their subjects. Explore magic and spiritualism in the exhibition Sleight of Hand and see all the exhibits too.

Register here:

Veterans Day: WWI Weaponry with Joseph Govednikcalendar Veterans Day
Sunday, November 11, 2:00-4:00 PM
Program included with admission.
Free admission on November 11 for retired and active duty military and their families, with ID.

Discover the history behind American World War I technology with Cowlitz County Museum Director Joseph Govednik. Commemorate Veterans Day and the centennial of Armistice Day. Learn about Washington’s role in preparing the country to fight in World War I, as well as the incredible advancements in technology which impacted far more than just wartime industry.

Scholarly SelectionsClimate change events page
What explains the acceptance (vs. the rejection) of scientific consensus on climate change? A study of 650 Florida Residents
Third Thursday November 15, 6:30-8:00 PM
FREE and open to the public 

Join University of Washington Tacoma professor Rose Njorog in a conversation about public perceptions of climate change. In spite of the scientific consensus on climate change, survey findings show that the American public is polarized in its views. A study conducted among 650 Florida citizens in 2012 suggest that different factors (rather than political ideology) may explain this polarization. Learn more about how people arrive at their conclusions on this topic.

Third ThursdayThird Thurs people in lobby events page
November 15
FREE admission from 3:00-8:00 PM

Special exhibitions on view: Collections Selections: Jacob Lawrence, Two Centuries of Glass, Make/Do: A History of Creative Reuse (closing December 6!), and Sleight of Hand: Magic and Spiritualism in the Twentieth Century. 

Get in some holiday shopping at The Goods at the Museum, too!

Third Thursday is generously supported by Columbia Bank.

History After Hours: CRAFT + BREWCraft Brew events page
Thursday, December 6, 7:00-10:00 PM
An ages 21+ program
$20 pre-registration, $25 at the door

It’s a crafting and beer tasting bonanza! This is your last chance to see 180 really unusual items in the exhibition Make/Do: A History of Creative Reuse before it closes. 

Get crafty and pair hands-on projects with specialty brews crafted by Washington breweries. Learn about each style of craft beer along with its historical significance to the area. You can even make your own wrapping paper to share your crafts as holiday gifts! 

These events typically sell out! Get your tickets online today at

Third ThursdayWA My Home third thurs cropped
December 20
FREE admission from 3:00-8:00 PM

Special exhibitions on view: Collections Selections: Jacob Lawrence, Two Centuries of Glass, Sleight of Hand: Magic and Spiritualism in the Twentieth Century

Grab last minute holiday gifts that are sure to please at The Goods at the Museum, too! 

Third Thursday is generously supported by Columbia Bank.

23rd Annual Model Train FestivalModel Train Festival events page
Friday, December 21, 2018 through Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Regular admission applies, FREE for WSHS members. 
Promotional coupons and discounts are not valid during Model Train Festival.

History and holiday magic unite at the Washington State History Museum during the Annual Model Train Festival in December. 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, including the largest permanent model train layout in Washington! New this year: a trail of train related artifacts in the Great Hall. 

Take a free photo with Santa Claus! The jolly gentleman will be here to visit with children on December 21, 22 and 23 from 11:00 AM–3:00 PM. We’ll capture this special moment on an iPad and the pictures will be instantly e-mailed to you. Let the magical holiday memories commence!

December 23 is also Teen Tix day!
Admission is just $5.00 for teens when you show your Teen Tix card!

See all the details at

The 2018 Model Train Festival is made possible in part by the Port of Tacoma.

Member Appreciation Eventlobby full for event
Friday, December 21, 5:30-8:30 PM
FREE for WSHS members!

Washington State Historical Society is excited to show our appreciation for our members with a special festive evening. Members can have the run of the museum on the first night of the annual Model Train Festival! Join us for delicious treats and fun and be ready for special surprises, too.

Kindly RSVP to  

Washington State History Museum is closed December 24, Christmas Eve and December 25, Christmas Day. 




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