Tacoma’s Museum District Reopening Breathes Life into Downtown

Just over a month after beginning a phased reopening, Tacoma’s Museum District, made up of the Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, LeMay – America’s Car Museum, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Foss Waterway Seaport, and Museum of Glass, is supporting the resurgence of community connection. A host of new events, exhibitions, and activities are on the horizon as people return to the downtown area. Amid the activity, all the museums continue to follow COVID-19 operating protocols to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

We’ve seen such happiness as guests have returned to the museum. It is a great feeling to provide a safe space for our community to engage with art again.

Debbie Lenk, executive director, Museum of Glass

Along the waterway, Museum of Glass has extended its popular outside tours of the Thea Foss Waterway through the end of May. Inside the museum, Family Day activities have resumed on the second Saturday of each month and in the Hot Shop visitors will find the team focusing on technical demonstrations each Saturday. In addition to new exhibitions – Counterparts: Glass + Art Elements and René Lalique: Art Deco Gems from the Steven and Roslyn Shulman Collection – Museum of Glass is also celebrating the final months of Transparency: An LGBTQ Glass Art Exhibition, which will close in August 2021.

Foss Waterway Seaport is preparing to reopen on June 3. For their reopening weekend, the Seaport will host a night paddle event, surplus sale, and Tacoma Ocean Fest on June 6. This year’s event will be a hybrid of in-person and livestreamed happenings.

At the Tacoma Art Museum, new exhibitions on view explore fresh ways of looking at the Museum’s collection. View South Sound Selects: Community Choices from the Collection, which broadens the curatorial voice by highlighting works from the museum’s collection as chosen by twenty-seven community members. Or take a deep dive into the art of painting and the core components that create a finished image in TAM’s newest exhibition, Painting Deconstructed: Selections from the Northwest Collection. TAM is also featuring selections in the Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Wing as part of Metaphor into Form: Art in the Era of the Pilchuck Glass School, including a new installation in the project space, Glass as Canvas.  

Washington State History Museum,
Photography by Over Tacoma

The Washington State History Museum is continuing its popular virtual programming, including COOPER: History After Hours with the Museum of Flight, and two free programs: Never again: The story of the Japanese American incarceration, and Scholarly Selections – Day of Remembrance. Museum visitors can explore the history of train travel with Just The Ticket, on view through August 22. On May 29, WSHM will debut the original exhibition Crossing Boundaries: Portraits of a Transgender West, highlighting historical narratives of transgender people in the West. Looking ahead, two new galleries will open in the Great Hall of Washington History — Remembrance: The Legacy of Executive Order 9066 in Washington (June 17) and 360 (summer 2021), as well as the annual IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition opening on July 15.

COVID-19 safety measures are in place across the district, including social distancing, required face coverings, and occupancy limits connected to Pierce County’s current status in Phase 2 of Healthy Washington – A Roadmap to Recovery. Some amenities at the museums remain closed per state and department of health protocols. Days and hours of operation for each museum follow.

Washington State History Museum
Open: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm; and every Third Thursday, 10am–8pm with free admission from 3–8pm.
WashingtonHistory.org

Museum of Glass
Open: Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm
MuseumOfGlass.org

America’s Car Museum
Open: Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm, last entry at 4:30pm
AmericasCarMuseum.org

Children’s Museum of Tacoma
Open: Limited daily sessions by reservation only. For more information about hours and how to make a reservation, see playtacoma.org.
PlayTacoma.org

Tacoma Art Museum
Open: Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm
TacomaArtMuseum.org

Foss Waterway Seaport
Re-opens: Thursday, June 3, 2021
Thursday–Sunday, 1am–4pm, and every Third Thursday 10am–4pm with free admission from 4–8pm.
FossWaterwaySeaport.org

About The Tacoma Museum District
The Tacoma Museum District is one of the jewels of the South Sound! Visit six premier museums within walking distance to each other (or catch the convenient and free Link light rail). Each museum shares a different aspect of Pacific Northwest arts and culture and they work together to share the best of Tacoma as a destination.

Where are the museums? Along Pacific Avenue you’ll find the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the Tacoma Art Museum, and just past Historic Union station, the Washington State History Museum. From the History Museum, take the pedestrian Bridge of Glass right to the Museum of Glass. Stroll along Thea Foss Waterway to reach the Foss Waterway Seaport. Catch the Link on Pacific Ave for a quick ride over toward America’s Car Museum. See each museum’s website for address and location details.