Fort Nisqually Living History Museum brings a slice of Pacific Northwest history to life

Friday, May 13, 2016 9:49 AM

The following is a guest post from Metro Parks Tacoma

Do your out-of-town guests have a zest to learn about local history and culture? Does the sunny season also lure your visitors out of doors?

The solution is simple: Suggest a visit to the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Point Defiance Park. The fort is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Co.’s Puget Sound outpost, as it was in about 1850. It features seven restored and reconstructed buildings, among them two National Historic Landmarks. Costumed interpreters interact with visitors and bring the story of the fort to life.

Through September 30, the fort is open daily from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. A new exhibit, “In Her Shoes: The Women of Fort Nisqually,” runs through Sept. 10.  And each weekend through September, the Fort, its foundation and the Tacoma Arts Commission host a Crafts of the Past program to showcase present-day practitioners of 19th century arts and crafts. Try your hand if you like; experimentation is encouraged.

Programs include:

But that’s not all. Throughout the year, the Fort offers special events to engage visitors in seasonal activities typical of the time period. On May 21, join the celebration of Queen Victoria's Birthday. Expect bagpipes at noon, a musket volley, toasts and a cannon salute. Watch re-enactors cook, bake, hammer and spin. Enjoy mid-19th century music performed by Suzanne Jaroszynski and Jim Hale.

Visitors also can get a taste of the Fort experience by attending a Fort Nisqually Time Travelers program at the Point Defiance Visitors Center. The Time Travelers presentations are given at 11 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month (pre-registration is requested by calling 253-305-1088). The center, just inside the park’s Pearl Street entrance, is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, and for longer hours this year, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Inside the center, visitors can interact with park ambassadors and pick up a new field guide to a new That’s the Point program that helps people explore areas of the park they might have missed. 

Later this spring and summer, special events at the Fort are:

  • June 18 – Heritage Foodways 2016 features a 19th century cooking contest.
  • July 15 – Family Fun Night Bring a picnic and join in dancing, games, and races from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
  • August 5 – Friday at the Fort 2016 is adults-only, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with music, dancing. Beer, wine and other refreshments will be sold.
  • August 13-14 -- Brigade Encampment 2016 Go back in time to 1855 and witness the arrival of fur traders and other re-enactors who troop in and celebrate.

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