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Consider Washington's history through forward-facing topics that are relevant today. Changing exhibitions are on the fifth floor. 
In the Great Hall of Washington History, see intricate Native basketry, learn about women's suffrage in the Evergreen State, snap a selfie in a covered wagon, step into an old-time general store, and get a close-up look at Clovis points (some of the oldest human-made artifacts in the state!). Explore immigration in Washington: My Home.

Current featured exhibitions: 

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A Thousand Words' Worth
Through August 4, 2019

A very special exhibition for those who love artifacts and literature!

We invited well-loved Washington authors to mine the Historical Society’s collections to tell stories through artifacts and objects. Each author worked with the Historical Society's curator, head of collections, or registrar to consider the many items in the collections, and chose arrays of objects that spoke to them, sometimes evoking themes from published work and sometimes inspiring new writing ideas.

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Through June 30, 2019

Experience a single horizon line created through twenty-eight landscapes in an intimate gallery setting. Paintings are drawn from the Washington State Historical Society's collections and date from 1870 to 1966. They include works by the artists recognized as the first woman painter and first African American painter of the American West, as well as other ground-breakers. The works are arranged with their predominant horizon lines in sync, creating the illusion of a unified surrounding horizon line.

Image credit: James Tilton Pickett, Mt. Olympus, c. 1885, James Tilton Pickett. Oil on canvas, 16 x 14 inches. Collection of Washington State Historical Society, C1943.1.1. Exhibition on view February 16-June 30, 2019.

Unlocking McNeil's Past: The People, The Place, The Prison
Through May 26, 2019

Exhibitions are generously supported by our presenting sponsor, The Norcliffe Foundation.

Permanent Exhibits

The Great Hall

Our largest exhibit at the Washington State History Museum, The Great Hall of Washington History is a walk through time. This year-round space showcases some of our earliest history with the Clovis Points and a variety of artifacts from Native American civilization and culture, and explains the progression through statehood including industrialization, the war and post-war eras, women's suffrage, immigration and migration, and more. Allow at least two hours to fully absorb the material in the Great Hall of Washington History.
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History Lab

The History Lab Learning Center engages visitors with interactive exhibits featuring historical concepts such as Time, Place, Viewpoint, Exploration, and Precedent. In the learning center, visitors of all ages are encouraged to use the Tools of the History Trade (artifacts, ephemera, books and periodicals, people, maps, and images) to think like detectives in search of evidence. The History Lab exhibit is on the fifth floor of the History Museum.

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Model Railroad

Don your conductor's cap and climb aboard the History Museum's own model railroad. Watch history being made as the Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers club continues construction on the 1,800-square-foot permanent layout depicting the rail lines from Tacoma's Point Defiance Park to the Stampede Pass tunnel in the Cascades. Join us when we celebrate model trains with our annual Model Train Festival.

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