Free admission to Fort Nisqually Living History Museum on Sept. 23

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Point Defiance Park will be open free of charge Saturday, Sept. 23, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s 13th annual Museum Day Live! initiative.

To take part, download Museum Day Live! tickets from the Smithsonian’s website. Each ticket is worth free admission for two. The offer is limited to one ticket per email address.

Museum Day Live! encourages museums throughout the United States to emulate the spirit of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., where admission is free daily. More than 200,000 people downloaded Museum Day Live! tickets last year and the upcoming event is expected to attract even more.

“We’re pleased to ally with the Smithsonian to support free access to museums across the country,” said Jim Lauderdale, Fort Nisqually supervisor.

The Museum Day Live! event coincides with the opening of a new exhibit at Fort Nisqually. “Tolmie the Ethnographer” highlights Dr. William Fraser Tolmie’s interest in Native American culture, language and basketry. Tolmie was chief factor, or business manager, at the original Fort Nisqually, the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost south of Tacoma near present-day DuPont.

The exhibit features displays of Pacific Northwest coast baskets, beadwork and the 1884 book “Comparative Vocabularies of the Indian Tribes of British Columbia,” which was co-authored by Tolmie and Canadian anthropologist George M. Dawson.

Tolmie was in charge at Fort Nisqually at a time when there were relatively few white settlers around Puget Sound. To conduct business, he learned  Chinook jargon and developed a working knowledge of the region’s Native American languages.

He did not formally study the culture until his retirement years in Victoria, B.C., but his interest was kindled during his earliest days on the coast at Fort Vancouver in the 1830s.

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s original Puget Sound outpost. Visitors experience daily life during the 1850s with the help of costumed interpreters. Seven restored and reconstructed 1850s buildings are open to the public, including two National Historic Landmarks. There is also a Visitor Center with Museum Store.

For more information about Museum Day Live! 2017 and a full list of participating museums and cultural institutions, visit

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