Arts & EntertainmentCampus Life

Explore Museums and Antiques in Downtown Tacoma


A major advantage that Tacoma citizen’s have is that there are three museums all within 10 minutes of walking distance from UWT. These three museums have been highly recognized by Washington citizens as must-visit destination that showcases fine art and artifacts from the Pacific Northwest.

Washington State History Museum

• Located at 1911 Pacific Ave.
• Open 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday
• Admission is FREE every third Thursday between 2 – 8 pm
• General admission is $11 for those 18 and over

The Washington State History Museum (WSHM) uses videos, replica models, life-sized sculptures, and artifacts in order to make one’s learning experience unique. According to the WSHM website, one well-known exhibit is the “Great Wall of Washington History,” which delves into the lives of our state’s Indigenous communities and early European settlers, while another exhibit is Washington’s largest model railroad. Other exhibits are temporary, but no less exciting. “People of Adze” features delicate wood carvings from the Shoalwater Bay Adze Indian Tribe and will be open until December 13th. “Arctic Ambitions,” an exhibit focusing on 18th century British explorer James Cook and his journey into the Pacific Northwest, is set to open October 17th and will run until March. The museum constantly brings in new exhibits, so you’ll want to visit again and again!

Tacoma Art Museum

• Located at 1701 Pacific Avenue
• Open 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday
• Admission is FREE every third Thursday between 5 – 8 pm
• General admission is $14 for those 18 and over

The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) has a variety of artwork from local and regional artists, whether it’s sculptures, paintings, blown glass, etc. According to the TAM website, the famous “Richard Rhode’s Stone Wave” sculpture has mirrored walls that give it a water-in-afishbowl look, creating an illusion that the stones in the piece are floating. The “Northwest in the West: Exploring Our Roots” exhibit explores artwork from the West and the Northwest. The exhibit highlights the relationship between Northwest regional art and the American West. The exhibit contains 2 works from the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art.

Tacoma Museum of Glass

• Located at 1801 Dock Street
• Open 10 am – 5 pm, Wednesday to Saturday
• Open 12 pm – 5 pm, Sunday
• Admission is FREE every third Thursday between 10 – 8 pm
• General admission is $14 for those 18 and over
• College students get free admission every Sunday!

The Tacoma Museum of Glass (TMG) features 20th and 21st century glass art. Glass sculptures can be recognized as an abstract form, a beautiful work of art, or unique home décor (vase, bowls, plates, etc.). The TMG website informs readers that one exhibit features contemporary versions of Italian Art Deco Venetian sculptures from famous Tacoma glassblowing artist Dale Chihuly. Chihuly is a major contributor to the 20th century glass art movement and has donated a lot of money to Downtown Tacoma. Shirley King’s “CRT Revisited” highlights her glass sculptures that are inspired by hospital armatures used to support women with breast cancer during radiation therapy. The museum also has the Hot Shop, where visitors can watch artists demonstrate the step-bystep process of creating molten glass art.

Antique Row

Antique Row is a section of Broadway Avenue that has nothing but antique shops filled with vintage furniture, artwork, musical instruments, books, music, and much more.

Poppy Co.

• Located on 761 Broadway
• Open 11 am – 5 pm, Thursday to Sunday

Poppy Co. turns ordinary vintage home décor into a work of art. According to South Sound Magazine, Linda Jenkins, owner of Poppy Co., explains that her and a group of four women perform a process called “upcycling.”. This is where you find, refinish, and paint vintage furniture and home accessories. Jenkins’ upcycling makes one of a kind house decorations cheap. Poppy Co.’s unique decor is mixing vintage and contemporary art. According to South Sound Magazine, the shop’s most popular items are vintage fabrics and handmade items that include a stories or quote.

Lily Pad Antiques, Collectables, Comics & Old Toys

• Located on 756 Broadway
• Open 11 am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Lily Pad Antiques and Old Toys buy, sell, and trade a plethora of collectibles, antiques, and childhood toys. Some examples are Hot Wheels, Star Wars action figures, Transformers, GI Joe, military & war items, comic books, Disney dolls, Farm Toy Tractors, etc. Travel Magazine AFAR states, “If you’re normally bored by dusty old antiques, you might like the pop-culture emphasis of this store, which is firmly 20th-century in scope.” This is great place to visit if you have a tight budget and want to relive your childhood by exploring an abundance of items that were once considered a “modern” toy when you were younger.

Sanford & Son

• Located on 743 Broadway
• Open 12 pm – 6 pm, Wednesday to Saturday, 12 pm – 5 pm on Sunday

One store that you must explore is Sanford & Son, a famous shop that has been around since 1985 and is the largest independent antique shop in the Pacific Northwest. With 25,000 square feet, 3 floors, and 20 individually owned shops on the middle floor, the shop feels like an entrance into a new world. The store features huge model ships and robots, one of a kind antiques, a collection of vintage books, artwork, and glass windows.

When exploring the individual shops, you are bound to see quirky home decor, locally-owned clothing boutiques, a bicycle museum, photo gallery, toys, collectables, and organic bath products. Being within walking distance of museums and antiques shops is a huge advantage for us at UWT. Expand upon what you learn inside the classroom, explore Downtown Tacoma and learn about local history and art in an environment surrounded with nostalgia.