Many of us are accustomed to the wonderful services offered by our local libraries. We can check out books, movies, and music; conduct research; make photocopies; get help with a job search; use computers and go online—the list is almost endless.

Did you know that library patrons can also check out museum passes to visit area museums free of charge?

Well, it’s true. Both Tacoma Public Library and Pierce County Library systems offer several choices of free museum passes for you and your family to enjoy.

Washington State History Museum
Dress up in ole timey clothes at the Washington State History Museum. Photo credit: Rosa St.Claire

The service is offered as part of a cooperative project between the two aforementioned library systems as well as Puyallup Public Library and local museums.

You can borrow museum passes at any of the Tacoma Public Library branches for the following museums: Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Museum of Glass, Washington State History Museum, Foss Waterway Seaport Museum and Lakewold Gardens.

Passes for the museums mentioned above, with the addition of the Harbor History Museum, are available at all Pierce County Library branches.

Beverly Choltco-Devlin, manager of the Tacoma Public Library Main Lranch, says, “The passes are on a first-come, first-serve basis and allow a varying number of children and adults on each pass depending on the pass.”

Most passes allow for two children and two adults to visit free of charge.

Keep in mind that the passes are free and therefore in demand. Choltco-Devlin offers some tips on securing a pass: “Holds cannot be placed on the passes, but often the optimal time to see if they are available is on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning as people usually return them after the weekend.”

A Pierce County Library employee says that checkout is limited to one pass per museum and each pass is good for up to one week. Passes cannot be reserved or renewed, but you can check for availability by calling a branch.

Tacoma Museum Passes
Check out all sorts of neat things at local museums, including original artifacts and models of artifacts. Photo credit: Rosa St.Claire

Here’s a brief summary of what you can expect at each museum:

Tacoma Art Museum – 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

Experience all kinds of art from the museum’s collection of over 5,000 works of art. Exhibits emphasize the art and artists of the Northwest and broader western region, but also include national and international works in certain exhibits. Check website to see what is currently on display.

Museum of Glass -1801 Dock Street, Tacoma

Known worldwide, the museum of glass is a contemporary art museum dedicated to glass and glass making in the West Coast. Check out the glass art exhibits and witness live glass making demonstrations in the museum’s Hot Shop.

Washington State History Museum – 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

The Washington State Historical Society behind the museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and vividly presenting Washington’s rich and storied history. Experience all kinds of exhibits that display the region’s rich history.

Lakewold Gardens
The Brick Walk and Teahouse at Lakewold Gardens features a gazebo-like structure where you can sit and enjoy the natural beauty around you. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

Foss Waterway Seaport Museum – 705 Dock Street, Tacoma

Experience the maritime history of the region through interpretation, education, and events that tell the stories of its past, present, and future. Check the museum’s website for more information.

Lakewold Gardens – 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive, Lakewood

The gardens present classic European design combined with America’s landscape masters. Experience a time when Tacoma’s first prominent families introduced the world to their vision of a country estate, all while the South Sound’s Lakes District was first being discovered.

Harbor History Museum – 4121 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor

Take the opportunity to experience the heritage of the greater Gig Harbor area at a museum that collects, preserves, and shares the rich history of the region. The museum’s permanent exhibit features opportunities for a hands-on exploration of history.