Tacoma Museums Honors Active Duty Military with Blue Star Museums Free Admission Program

Are you or a member of your family active duty military? If so, you’ll want to know about Blue Star Museums. Many of Tacoma’s downtown museums are continuing their annual participation in this national appreciation program, offering free admission during the summer months as a way to thank military families for their service. More than 2,000 museums across the country participate, in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense.

Through Labor Day, September 4, the Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, Foss Waterway Seaport, and Children’s Museum of Tacoma will offer free admission to active duty military personnel (including National Guard and Reserve) and their families.

“Tacoma museums appreciate this chance to thank the men and women in our community who serve in the nation’s military, for their service and sacrifice. We are delighted to welcome military families this summer and excited to share new and exciting exhibitions,” said Julianna Verboort, Marketing and Communications Director at Washington State History Museum.  “Each museum offers hands-on activities and easy access; most of the museums are within walking distance of each other.  You can park once and spend a full day with something to inspire every member of the family.”

The Blue Star Museums free admission program began in 2010, and wis available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent card), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty US military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps), along with up to five family members. A complete list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.

Outside wall of Tacoma's Children's Museum Photo by Morf Morford

Outside wall of Tacoma’s Children’s Museum
Photo by Morf Morford


Summer museum hours and highlights:

Washington State History Museum

The History Museum presents Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the most comprehensive exhibit ever created about America’s most popular sport. This multimedia experience showcases the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s iconic football artifacts, rare photos, historic documents, and spectacular NFL Films footage. Visitors will enjoy interactive exhibits such as stepping into an official instant replay booth and making tough calls, comparing grips with HOF quarterbacks, trying on shoulder pads and more. Be sure to check out the accompanying programs too, including Friday Football Flicks, a 21+ evening tailgate style celebration, a youth sports competition day, the Football 360 panel, and more.  See NorthwestMilitary.com’s review of Gridiron Glory, and the museum’s website, for more details.

Get inspired by the History Museum’s annual IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts Exhibition. Native American artists showcase their works in this juried exhibition. Meet the artists at an opening awards celebration on June 15 at 6:30 PM. Join in the arts market and festival on August 19, held in collaboration with Tacoma Art Museum from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

While you’re at the History Museum, don’t miss the phenomenal and detailed model railroad; investigate the History Lab; explore the Great Hall; and opening in July, the new exhibition Washington, My Home.

Washington State History Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, and until 8:00 PM every Third Thursday. For more information, visit www.WashingtonHistory.org or call 1-888-BE-THERE.

Museum of Glass

Until Labor Day, Museum of Glass will be open 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday, 12-5pm Sunday, and 10am-8pm on the Third Thursday of each month.  Exhibitions include:

*Into the Deep – a celebration of glass artists inspired by the ocean

*Art Deco Glass from the David Huchthausen Collection – over 200 pieces highlighting the smooth lines, geometric shapes and bright colors of the Art Deco movement

*Linda MacNeil: Jewels of Glass – showcasing the artist’s ability to transport glass into proxies for precious gemstones

*Ispirazione: James Mongrain in the George R. Stroemple Collection – combining Venetian glass  techniques with mythical creatures and forms to make a profound statement

Museum of Glass celebrates its 15th anniversary on Thursday, July 6 with free admission, sweet treats, games, live music, a scavenger hunt, and family-friendly fun.   Come join the celebration!

On Sunday, July 23, Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum will co-host Glass Fest Northwest, the first annual glass art festival on the waterfront plaza in front of MOG. Over 25 artists and artisans will be selling their works.  Visitors will enjoy food, music, hands-on activities, a chalk art contest, and more.

For more information, visit museumofglass.org, or call 1-866-4MUSEUM or 253-284-4750

Tacoma Art Museum

Visit the new exhibition Promoting the West: Abby Williams Hill and the Railroads. From 1903 to 1906, Tacoma artist Abby Williams Hill (1861-1943) painted the Pacific Northwest landscape and Yellowstone National Park for the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads. She was the first woman artist (and one of only a few) hired by these railroad companies. Her images were used for promotional campaigns encouraging railroad travel to the West for tourism or settlement.

Beginning June 27th view the Zhi LIN: In search of the Lost History of Chinese Migrants and the Transcontinental Railroads exhibition. Internationally acclaimed Seattle artist Zhi LIN has refocused attention on the overlooked yet vital history of the Chinese laborers of the 19th century. Thousands of men migrated from China to seek fortunes in the gold mines of California but, instead, mainly found work building the transcontinental railroads.

Celebrated as a technical marvel in its day, the first transcontinental railroad was constructed from 1863 to 1869, due largely to the contributions of Chinese workers who cut through the mountains and deserts of the American West. The absence of Chinese laborers from American history books is an animating force in Lin’s work.

Tacoma Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Please visit www.TacomaArtMuseum.org for more details and related programming.

Children’s Museum of Tacoma

The Children’s Museum of Tacoma offers Pay As You Will admission.  Pay what you can during your visit to help us ensure that every child gets a chance to play.

We believe play is the elemental component of children’s learning. Our museum engages young children and their adult caregivers in self-directed play through innovative design that celebrates imagination and encourages creativity.  The museum’s playscapes and programs support children’s growth through play by addressing age-appropriate development, especially in the areas of creativity, social and emotional skills, cognitive and critical thinking skills, gross and fine motor development, and early literacy learning.

Core early childhood experiences form the platform for play in the Museum’s five main areas: Woods, Water, Voyager, Invention, and Becka’s Studio.

Hours of Play: Wednesday – Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM*

Members Only: Monday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Closed Tuesday.

*Third Thursday of each month 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM.

Foss Waterway Seaport

The Foss Waterway Seaport Museum celebrates Tacoma’s rich maritime heritage – past, present and future. Located on the historic Thea Foss waterfront in a century-old wooden wheat warehouse (listed on the National Registry of Historic Places), one of two remaining warehouses, with others that once stretched almost a mile long that were originally built to accommodate cargo “arriving by rail and departing by sail” during the early years of Tacoma’s history.

The theme for the 2017 summer season, Tacoma: This is Your Waterfront, highlights the many historic maritime treasures in the Seaport’s collection. Themed programs and weekend activities will use artifacts as touchstones to connect visitors to their shared past, present, and future, along with enabling visitors to connect to the sailors, ships, rail yards, workers, and The Port of Tacoma which helped shape Puget Sound into the region that it is today. Get out on the water with these lessons and activities: Paddle Boarding, July 29;  Sailing, July 8 and 22;   Kayaking,  July 15;   SeaCamp for Kids July 24-28  and The Other Country, a theatrical play about Thea and Andrew Foss, Aug 10 -13.

While you’re at the Seaport, don’t miss the working heritage boat shop, check out the exploration tanks; explore the fishing exhibit; and more.

The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, and Sunday, Noon – 4:00 PM. Open until 8:00 PM every Third Thursday.  Note: The Seaport is a participating member of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association. For more information, visit www.fosswaterwayseaport.org or call 253 272-2750.

- Blue Star Museums