History Comes to Life
Come explore the first globally connected settlement on Puget Sound.
Engaging a diverse regional audience with Puget Sound’s first globally connected settlement through historic preservation, experiential learning, and interpretation.
May 1 – September 30
Open Daily 11 am to 5 pm
October 1 – April 30
Open Wednesday to Sunday 11 am to 4 pm
Thur. – Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving)
Tues. – Dec. 24
Wed. – Dec. 25
Tues. – Dec. 31
Wed. Jan. 1, 2020
Thursday 1 – 4 pm or by appointment
Closed Nov. 28
Same hours as the Fort
Inclement Weather Closures
Point Defiance Park and the Fort may be closed during severe weather conditions such as wind, snow or ice storms.
Point Defiance Park hours
Open ½ hour before sunrise
Close ½ hour after sunset
All Tacoma parks’ hours are set by the Tacoma municipal code (chapter 8.27.220). Exceptions may apply, see the municipal code for details.
Members receive free admission to all events except Candlelight Tour and after hours events. Become a member.
Accessibility at Fort Nisqually
Parking: There are three designated parking stalls on site. The route to entry is a combination of pavement and compounded wood chips.
Entrance: Main Entrance is the accessible entrance. Historic fenced gate is open during operating hours. Doors into the visitor center require less then 8lb of pressure to open. Staff is available for assistance.
Route: There is a 36″ + wide accessible route through the museum store. The outdoor path is 60″ wide and is a combination of concrete landings and compact gravel. Given that the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum complex is a historically authentic replication, some buildings only have outside viewing opportunities. Where the building allows for accessible routes and turnarounds, ramps into the buildings are provided.
Assistance: Most information, exhibit signage, viewing stations and customer materials are within the 15-48″ reach range and 32-60″ visibility height. Staff is available to provide assistance with out-of-reach items in the Museum Store.
Restrooms: There are two accessible public restrooms in the great room inside the fort. The restrooms at the adjoining picnic site are not accessible.
Viewing: Where viewing capacity is limited, Fort Nisqually staff have developed alternative materials to provide a visual experience.
Assistive Listening: Patrons have the ability to take a cell phone tour during their visit in order to hear audio interpretive information while on site.
Sensory Experience: This is primarily an outdoor experience, although many buildings are passed through on a self-guided tour. Guests should make consideration for exposure to natural elements, including allergens.
Fort Nisqually History
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum’s Mission: Engage a diverse regional audience with Puget Sound’s first globally connected settlement through historic preservation, experiential learning, and interpretation.
Fort Nisqually, the first globally connected settlement on the Puget Sound, was established in 1833 by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a fur trading outpost. The decline of the fur trade meant that Fort Nisqually’s focus shifted to commercial agricultural enterprises with the establishment of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC) in 1839. Based at Fort Nisqually, the PSAC raised cattle, sheep, and horses along with crops such as wheat, barley, oats, and peas across the 160,000 acres claimed by the company. By 1855, the date the museum portrays, this British establishment was surrounded by American territory and faced increasing pressure from settlers who wanted the farmable land for their own use. The Hudson’s Bay Company sold its holdings to the United States government, withdrawing from Washington Territory in 1869, and Fort Nisqually became the homestead of the last manager, Edward Huggins.
Fort Nisqually was originally located in what is now DuPont, WA. The Fort you see today was reconstructed in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Civic-minded citizens preserved and donated two of the original structures, the Factor’s House and Granary, to the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma. The museum gives residents and visitors a chance to experience what life was like on Puget Sound in 1855.