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9 Best Tacoma Museums | 🖼️ Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, Children’s Museum + More

Last Updated on: 4th January 2024, 02:47 pm

In the heart of Washington, just beneath Seattle, the City of Tacoma is a convergence of history, art, and culture. Journeying through Tacoma museums is an immersive experience that will bring to life the history, artifacts, and artworks that have shaped this dynamic city and our country’s history.

As you explore the many museums in Tacoma, you’ll quickly realize there’s a piece of our past for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, an antique car lover, or simply seeking a day of family fun, the following nine best Tacoma Washington museums cater to a wide range of interests and ages.

Free Museum Day: Tacoma Third Thursday Celebration

Tacoma’s city calendar highlights include the eagerly anticipated Free Museum Day Tacoma, which happens on the third Thursday of each month during the Tacoma Art Walk in the museum district. This special event opens the doors of Tacoma museums to the public for free or a discounted charge during certain times (depending on the exact Tacoma museum), including the:

  • Tacoma Art Museum
  • Washington State History Museum
  • Foss Waterway Seaport Museum
  • Museum of Glass.

The Tacoma Museum District buzzes with life and activity as locals and tourists alike take advantage of this unique opportunity, and if you’re looking for fun things to do in Tacoma with kids, mark this day on your calendar!

Tacoma Art Museum – An Inspiring Collection of Northwest and Western American Art

The Tacoma Art Museum (often abbreviated as TAM), located in the historic homeland of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Tacoma Museum district, features an extensive Northwest and Western American art collection.

The Tacoma Museum of Art includes over 5,400 works in a variety of mediums, in addition to a cafe of local flavors and gift shop. This gallery boasts the most extensive museum collection of glass art by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly, a premier exhibition of Western American art from the Haub Family, and other collections that make it a contender for best Washington modern art museum.

This is a must-see museum in Tacoma for all ages.

 

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Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402
  • Phone Number: 253-272-4258
  • Tacoma Art Museum Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 10 AM–5 PM; Third Thursday of each month, 10 AM–8 PM
  • Tacoma Art Museum tickets: Adults – $18, Seniors/Students/Military – $15, Children (6-17) – $5, Children (5 and under) – FREE for all ages (during certain times) on Tacoma free museum day!
  • Tacoma Art Museum Parking: Available in “TAM” marked stalls nearby along the building, managed by Republic Parking Northwest, at a rate of $2 per hour or $12 for an all-day pass.

Tacoma Glass Museum – The Largest Glass Museum on the West Coast!

Situated on Dock Street and also located in the Tacoma Museum District, the Tacoma Museum of Glass features mesmerizing exhibits that bring the best of glassblowing and glass art to life. It’s the biggest glass museum and studio on the West Coast, and the plethora of kids’ programs make it perfect for the entire family.

Visitors can observe the intricate process of glassblowing at The Hot Shop, where 35 visiting artist residencies are featured each year, explore magical glass art in the galleries,  eat at the La Finestra cafe, or walk the alluring Tacoma Bridge of Glass decorated in art.

Please note, if you’re looking for the Chihuly Museum Tacoma, his works are located at the TAM.

Tacoma Glass Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 1801 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402
  • Phone Number: 253-272-4258
  • Glass Museum Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 10 AM–8 PM on the third Thursday of each month, 10 AM–8 PM
  • Museum of Glass tickets: Adults – $20, $18 Seniors/Students/Military – $15, Children (6-17) – $12, Children (6-18) – Children (under 6) Free – FREE for all ages (during certain times) on Tacoma free museum day!
  • Tacoma Glass Museum Parking: Underground parking is available on-site for $5 for 1-3 hours or $10 for 3+ hours.

Tacoma Car Museum – A Nostalgic Ride through Automotive History

The LeMay Tacoma Auto Museum, also known as the American Car Museum in Washington, offers an unforgettable experience for families and automobile enthusiasts. This museum is a total embodiment of America’s passion for the automobile, showcasing the immeasurable extent to which it has shaped our society. It is one of the best car museums in Washington state and the United States!

The Tacoma Car Museum includes current (as of November 2023) exhibits like “75 Years of Porsche,” “The British Invasion,” and “Legends of Motorsports: The NASCAR Story.” These exhibits take you into the world of automotive innovation and history, and the museum also offers plentiful educational programs for kids and adults. Local car enthusiasts can opt to enjoy museum membership with additional perks and discounts.

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 2702 E D St, Tacoma, WA 98421
  • Phone Number: (253) 779-8490
  • Lemay Car Museum Tacoma Hours: Open Thursday – Monday, 10 AM – 5 PM
  • Tacoma Car Museum Price: Adults (18-64) – $22, Youth (5-17) – $16, Seniors (Age 65+) – $20, Active Duty Military/Veteran (With Valid ID Card) – $20, Child (4 and under) – Free. AAT Members: Free.
  • Tacoma Car Museum Parking: Complimentary on-site parking.

Washington State History Museum Tacoma – Exploring Washington’s Rich Heritage

History buffs rejoice! The Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, adjacent to the historic Union Station, is one of the best museums in Washington, a true, tangible embodiment of the state’s past.

Opened in 1996 and run by the Washington State Historical Society, the Washington History Museum in Tacoma is a popular destination for visitors who want to explore diverse exhibits like Boeing history or the Southern Coast Salish plank house. The museum also houses the state’s largest permanent model train layout, a highlight that recreates regional railroad scenes and attracts enthusiasts during the annual Model Train Festival​​.

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402
  • Phone Number: (253) 272-3500
  • Washington State History Museum Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, 10:00 AM-8:00 PM on the third Thursday of each month.
  • Admission: Adults (18-64) – $14.00, Seniors (65+) – $11.00, Military (active duty or retired with ID) – $11.00, Student (age 6-18 or older with current high school ID) – $11.00, Child (0-5) – Free. Free for all ages during set hours on Tacoma Free Museum Day.
  • Washington State History Museum Parking: On-site parking is available. 4 Hours – $5.00, 6 Hours – $8.00, 12 Hours – $10.00.

Childrens Museum Tacoma – A World of Play and Hands-on Learning

The Tacoma Children’s Museum is a must-visit destination for families in Tacoma Washington, and is one of the best free museums in Tacoma. It blends hands-on learning with smile-inducing entertainment and offers children a world to explore, learn, and grow.

This Tacoma Museum for Kids is part of the non-profit Greentrike and was established in 1985 by parents, teachers, and community leaders. It has since evolved from an exhibit into a thriving community-focused entity facilitating early learning and play throughout the cities of Pierce County​ . Children can engage with single- and multiple-theme exhibits or join unique programs like Play to Learn, Preschool Powered by Play, and more.

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 1501 Pacific Avenue, Suite 202, Tacoma, Washington 98402
  • Phone Number: 253-627-6031
  • Tacoma Children’s Museum Hours: Thursday 1 – 5 p.m., Friday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and open10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on every third Thursday of the month.
  • Children’s Museum of Tacoma Cost: Children’s Museum of Tacoma tickets operate on a donation only basis.
  • Children’s Museum of Tacoma Parking: Metered on-street parking or member-only in stalls 1-10 in the lot next to the museum.

Tacoma’s Foss Waterway Seaport – A Maritime Museum Adventure

The Foss Waterway Museum in Tacoma curates a maritime journey through the history of South Sound. Housed in a beautiful, century-old building, the Tacoma Maritime Museum offers an immersive experience with hands-on displays, a wooden boat shop, and a functional dock bustling with life. This classic Tacoma museum showcases a vast collection of marine artifacts​​ , including small watercraft like rowboats, racing shells, and pleasure craft.

Visitors can sail into the stories of the Puyallup tribe and their connection with salmon and view traditional canoes, or learn of the fascinating tale of Thea Foss, a Norwegian immigrant who established the world’s largest tugboat industry at this maritime museum in Tacoma.

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 705 Dock Street, Tacoma, WA 98402
  • Phone Number: (253) 272-2750
  • Foss Waterway Seaport Hours: The museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers free admission every third Thursday of the month from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Admission: Family Pass (up to 2 adults & 4 children) – $25, Adults – $10, Child 5+, Student, Military & Seniors 62+ – $8, Museums for All admission (with EBT card and photo ID) – $2, Free for Seaport and NARM Members & Children under 5.
  • Foss Waterway Seaport Parking: Available Free 2-hour parking.

Buffalo Soldiers Museum – Honoring a Legacy in American History

The Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Tacoma is a tribute to the remarkable history of the 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, who helped shape the expansion of the West via their protection. Established in 2005 as a non-profit organization, this museum is dedicated to sharing a vital yet often overlooked part of American history. It’s a hub of educational and outreach programs, historical research, and exhibits that highlight the service of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 1940 S Wilkeson St, Tacoma, WA 98405
  • Phone Number: (253) 272-4257
  • Buffalo Soldiers Museum Hours: Wednesday and Saturday, 12:00 noon- 4:00 p.m. or by appointment.
  • Admission: Donation only!
  • Buffalo Soldiers Museum Parking: Street-side parking available in front of the building

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum Tacoma – Live Demonstrations of Washington’s Past!

Do you enjoy living history museums? Then you’ll adore the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma, specifically located in Point Defiance Park! This unique Tacoma history museum is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost on Puget Sound and transports visitors back to life in the Washington Territory during the 1850s​​ through immersive, hands-on experiences and reenactments that are open year-round.

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 5519 Five Mile Dr, Tacoma, WA 98407
  • Phone: (253) 404-3970
  • Fort Nisqually Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.​​
  • Fort Nisqually Tickets: Family Pass (up to 2 adults & 5 youth) – $35.39, Adults (18-64) – $11.94, Youth (4-17)- $8.58, Military & Seniors 62+ – $10.82, Children (3 and under)- Free.
  • Fort Nisqually Parking: On-Site

Job Carr Cabin Museum in Tacoma: An Interactive Window into Pioneer Life

Located in Tacoma’s historic Old Town Park, the Job Carr Cabin Museum offers a unique glimpse into the life of Tacoma’s first permanent non-indigenous settler, Job Carr. This charming museum recreates Carr’s rustic cabin, providing visitors with an immersive experience of pioneer life in the Pacific Northwest. It’s one of the family-friendly, free museums in Tacoma where history comes alive through interactive exhibits and storytelling to truly capture the pioneering spirit of the 19th century. ​

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 2350 N 30th St, Tacoma, WA 98403
  • Phone: (253) 627- 5405
  • Job Carr Cabin Museum Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.​​
  • Admission: This is a free Tacoma Museum!
  • Job Carr Cabin Museum Parking: Free street parking.

Map of Museums in Tacoma

Discovering Tacoma’s museums is a journey through history and creativity, perfect for both newcomers and locals. If you’re considering a move to the museum-rich area, All Ready Moving is the best Tacoma moving company and your go-to for a hassle-free transition. Contact us today at 360-507-2447 for a free estimate!

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