The Washington State History Museum
1911 Pacific Avenue, New Tacoma, Tacoma

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Exhibits at Washington State History Museum

Collections Selections: Canoe Models

February 16, 2019 - September 22, 2019

This exhibition shows the Washington State Historical Society’s collection of model canoes carved as representations of larger vessels and as art created for the tourist trade. Several different tribes, art styles, and canoe designs are represented here, dating from the 1870s to the early 2000s.


February 16, 2019 - January 13, 2020

Experience a single horizon line created through twenty-eight landscapes in an intimate gallery setting. All works are from the Washington State Historical Society’s collection and date from 1870 to 1966. They are hung together in a way that aligns their dominant horizon lines. The cumulative result is the effect of a continual landscape around the perimeter of the gallery.

While the exhibition features paintings of differing sizes, media, and techniques, the works themselves portray the suggested influence of the physical grandeur and the capturing of the native landscape of the Pacific Northwest, alongside the larger idea of horizon and the opportunity that looking westward afforded many of the artists whose work is represented here. Works from the WSHS collection included in HORIZON demonstrate how various painters have grappled with the vast scale and subtle nuances of the Pacific Northwest landscape.

The dates of the artworks exhibited span almost a century, ranging from 1870 to 1966, and vary considerably in style and environmental treatment. Some artists sought to capture the immensity or emptiness of a view, while others focused instead on the impact of settlement and “progress,” as it was thought of at the time. This unlikely stable of artists, with only the ultimate resting place of their works in common, illustrates an influx of creative wanderers to the American West, each of whom heralded from some other place and brought with them a unique point of view—an individual lens through which to see the environs of Washington State.

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.

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.

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.

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