Events & Programs

See all upcoming events in Explore It!

Purchase Tickets


Exhibit Openings



Ernest Oglby Punkweiler and the Fabulous Miraculous Time Intrusionator

Opens to the Public May 17

Opens at 10am
Special Programs from 11 am - 4pm
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission

Shawn Underwood of "Call Me Clever Vintage Goods" and fellow picker Karen Kramer will give a special presentation titled "The Joy of Picking!" with special emphasis on children as the next generation of collectors and reusers.

Time Instrusionator is made possible by Click! Cable TV, the William Kilworth Fund and the L.T. Murray Family Foundation.

Special Members-Only Opening Preview

5 - 8pm
May 16
History Museum

Members save the date! The History Museum will host WSHS Members and their families for a preview party of the new exhibit "Ernest Oglby Punkweiler and the Fabulous Miraculous Time Intrusionator." Kids and adults can experience the hands-on, interactive stations in a personal way. All members, regardless of membership level, will be able to bring up to four children (under 18) FREE! Enjoy face painting, balloon twisters, refreshments, and more! 

WSHS Members: Watch your mailbox in early April for your exclusive invitation!

Don't miss out on all the excitement. Become a WSHS Member! Contact Barbara Johanson at 253-798-5894 or at



IN THE SPIRIT: Contemporary Native Arts Exhibit

Mask Image for content
Opens June 19 (Free Third Thursday)

Our annual Contemporary Native American arts exhibit opens June 19, which is also Free Third Thursday. Join us for free admission from 2 - 8pm to see the beautiful and unique works by Native artists. Opening Day includes an award ceremony, as IN THE SPIRIT is a juried exhibition.



Exhibit Programs 


Curator-Guided Tours of Civil War Pathways in the Pacific Northwest

5 - 6pm and 6 - 7pm
April 17Civil War corrected logo
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission

Hear the stories from our Civil War Pathways exhibit from historian and exhibit curator Lorraine McConaghy.




Black Soldiers of the Civil War and Their Washington Connection

12pmBlack Infantry Soldier image
May 21
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission

General Silas Casey, who recruited and organized the Black regiment in the Union Army, spent his pre-war years as the commander of Fort Steilacoom. At the end of the war, Black veterans settled in Washington and belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic, an integrated organization. This program tells the story of the Black tradition of service and its Northwest connections. Presented by Alan Archambault, historian and author with a 35-year career in the museum field, including with the Fort Lewis Military Museum. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.




Civil War Scoundrels of the Pacific Northwest

12pm and 1:15pmJames Tilton image
June 4
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission

Exhibit curator Lorraine McConaghy talks about the characters from the Civil War who made their way to the Pacific Northwest. Includes a post-program guided tour.






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

General Stevens

  • May 2: Civil War Pathways: A Woman's Place Was Where?
  • June 6: Ernest Oglby Punkweiler and the Fabulous Miraculous Time Intrusionator

These programs are included in the admission to the History Museum. Photo ID #2006.0.57.




History Speaks (Second Wednesday of Every Month at 12pm)

Northwest Hikes photo


  • May 14: "Chinese Pioneers of the Pacific Northwest"
  • June 11: "New Hikes in Southwest Washington"


These programs are included with admission to the History Museum. Photo courtesy of William L. Sullivan.



UWT Scholarly Selections (Third Thursdays at 6:30pm)

UWT image

  • April 17: Local Political Cultures and the Cultural Politics of Place: The (Unlikely?) Case of Sheridan County, Montana.
  • May 15: Another Nature: Re-imagining the Green Poem


These programs are presented in partnership with the University of Washington Tacoma and are open to the public at the History Museum.

Special Programs


Concert: Voices of Musical Cultures

Gary Stroutsos2pm
April 27
History Museum
Included in Museum Admission

International recording artist and cultural folklorist Gary Stroutsos entertains us with an afternoon of personal stories and "old songs" from his extensive catalog of recordings including American Indian family songs and other world-based flute music. Children and families are especially welcome and can try out some of Gary's handmade flutes. Photo courtesy of Gary Stroutsos.

Community Events

2nd Annual Poker Run

June 7
Registration Begins at 9:30am
$15 for rider/$20 for rider and passenger

History Museum

All motorcycle riders are invited to participate in our 2nd Annual Poker Run fundraiser, which benefits our Field Trip Transportation Fund. Last year, the event raised enough money to help 700 Washington kids come to the History Museum. Help us blow that out of the water! Register starting at 9:30am at the History Museum, visit other stops to collect your poker hand, and finish at The Swiss Restaurant & Pub where prizes will be awarded for best and worst hands. Organized in cooperation with the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club. 

Print the Flyer and Spread the Word!


Tacoma History Hike

June 22History Hike logo
Walk-up Registration Begins at 12:30pm
Event Starts at 2pm
History Museum
Grab your sneakers, leash up the dog, and strap the kids into their strollers! The Tacoma History Hike is the chance to explore downtown Tacoma as you collect the answers to historical trivia in a race against time. Held in June, the Tacoma History Hike will actively involve your entire family in learning more about our area. 
The Tacoma History Hike begins at the Washington State History Museum and leads you to a variety of checkpoints within a 1.5-mile radius, allowing you to walk, run, or bike the course. Each checkpoint provides the answer to a question of Tacoma-related historical trivia. Collect as many as you can in the time allotted, and return to the Museum for music, awards, goody bags, and free admission to the History Museum. It's a fun way to spend the day with family and friends, rain or shine.

Annual Meeting

June 21
Invitations Forthcoming
Annual Meeting standard pic
WSHS Members: Save the Date! Join other members for lunch and a program featuring a state-of-the-organization address by Director Jennifer Kilmer, awards presentations, and an insightful lecture by Head of Education Stephanie Lile. Meet this year's award winners and learn about their distinguished contributions to Washington State history. Members can expect a formal invitation by mail with additional details. Reservations are highly recommended.
For more information, contact Development Director Laura Berry at 253-798-5899 or


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!


*The meeting in April 2014 will be held on April 12 instead of the first Saturday.

Model Train Festival