Historical Sites And Museums In Tacoma

Tacoma, Washington, is a city full of historical sites and museums. From historical forts to art museums to car and motorcycle museums, Tacoma has something for everyone.

Tacoma is a city rich in history. Located in Washington, just a little south of Seattle, Tacoma is one of the largest ports in the world. Tacoma is also the home of numerous museums and historical sites.

Washington State History Museum

First on our list is the Washington State History Museum, a museum that showcases the rich and diverse history of Washington State. The museum’s exhibits cover everything from Native American history to the state’s role in the aerospace industry. With interactive exhibits, rare artifacts, and multimedia displays, this museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of the Pacific Northwest.

Washington State History Museum

The Washington State Historical Society, which was founded in 1891, is headquartered in Tacoma. In 1996, the society opened the Washington State History Museum. Open seven days a week and offering free admission on Thursday evenings, the museum has several intriguing exhibits, including the History Lab Learning Center, the Great Hall of Washington History, Model Railroad, Transportation Time, and other exhibits that change periodically.

The Washington State Historical Society also maintains the Research Center, which holds historical manuscripts, books, maps, and photographs. The Research Center is open to the public. People who are interested in ancient manuscripts should also visit Tacoma’s Karpeles Manuscript Library, which has rare, original manuscripts that are available for public viewing.

Tacoma Point Defiance Park

In addition to being a beautiful location, Tacoma Point Defiance Park is full of history. The Camp 6 Logging Museum, located in the park, is operated by the Tacoma Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The Camp 6 Logging Museum was opened in 1964 and offered to log train rides and various exhibits.

The historical Fort Nisqually is also located in Point Defiance Park. The fort, which was the first European settlement in the Puget Sound area, currently attracts 90,000 visitors each year and is owned by the Metro Parks of Tacoma. Visitors can see the Factor’s House, which was built in 1855 and is presently being restored; the Granary, which is the oldest building in the Puget Sound area; the Blacksmith shop; a museum; and a gift shop.

Another must-see attraction is the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, a reconstructed 19th-century fort that offers a glimpse into life in the early days of Tacoma. Visitors can explore the fort’s buildings, watch costumed interpreters demonstrate historic crafts and activities, and learn about the region’s early history.

Tacoma Museum of Art

Art lovers should visit the Tacoma Museum of Art and Tacoma’s Museum of Glass. The Tacoma Museum of Art, founded in 1935 by the Tacoma Art Association, focuses on art from the Northwest. The Museum of Glass showcases modern glass creations from around the world.

Tacoma African-American Museum was founded in 1993 and strived to educate people on the important contributions made by African-Americans. The museum hosts educational programs and annual events, it and offers exhibits on Washington’s African-American mayors, African traditions, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., African-American military service, and York and Sacagawea.

America’s Car Museum

Car enthusiasts will enjoy the Harold E. LeMay Museum or America’s Car Museum. Harold and Nancy Lemay owned over 3,000 vehicles of various makes and models spanning the 20th century. They used their car collection, which was the largest privately-owned car collection in existence, to open the Harold E. LeMay Museum in 1998. Tacoma is also home to the Pioneer Museum of Motorcycles.

Shanaman Sports Museum

Finally, a guide to Tacoma’s historical sites and museums would not be complete without mention of the Shanaman Sports Museum. This museum was opened in 1994 and offers exhibits showcasing the history of sports. For now, Shanaman Sports Museum is permanently closed.

If you’re looking to discover the rich history of Tacoma, these museums and historical sites are the perfect place to start. Covering everything from history and art to cars and sports, Tacoma has something for everyone. Whether you live near Tacoma or are planning a visit to the area, Tacoma is a city that should not be passed over. 

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About the author
Growing up in Detroit, Lindsey is a Michigan State University alumnus. She feels incredibly lucky to live in Detroit, and much more, to spend her days promoting the Detroit area as a travel destination.