Visions of the Moon and History through Fashion: Something for Everyone at the Washington State History Museum

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Photo courtesy: Washington State History Museum

Submitted by WSHM

Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, Washington State History Museum opens two new exhibitions. A New Moon Rises is from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), and Little Black Dress: A Fashion Evolution is drawn from the Historical Society’s collections. Both exhibitions open on Saturday, August 31, 2019 and run through early December.

While you cannot yet travel to the Moon, it is easy to imagine you are there as you stand surrounded by grand images of its craters, mountain ranges and rocky landscapes.

“In July our nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. A New Moon Rises continues that celebration,” said Jennifer Kilmer, the Historical Society’s director. “Visitors can find out what science has learned about the Moon since then, while exploring the lunar surface through dozens of stunning large-scale images. We’ll also have three-dimensional models, small Moon rocks, and retro-futuristic objects from our collections that show what Americans thought life would be like in the space age.”

The images were captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) between 2009 and 2015. A New Moon Rises was created by the National Air and Space Museum and the Arizona State University, and is organized for travel by SITES.

On Free Third Thursday Evening, September 19, aerospace engineer and UWT senior lecturer emeritus Linda Dawson presents Scholarly Selections: A History of Space Exploration. Dawson worked on the space shuttle program at NASA’s Houston Control Center. Her talk at the History Museum is free and open to the public.

Visitors ages 21-plus can enjoy A New Moon Rises after dark on Thursday, October 10 during History After Hours Washington In Spaaace; tickets are available at and include two beverages, games, the exhibition and more. On Free Third Thursday Evening, October 17, the Museum of Flight will bring their traveling planetarium to the History Museum for guests to participate in another type of space exploration.  A New Moon Rises closes on December 1, 2019.

In the adjacent galleries, visitors can take a journey of a different style through a timeline of garments as dark as the Moon’s shadow.

Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Little Black Dress: A Fashion Evolution explores how styles changed over the decades, reflecting shifting social norms and cultural values.

“The timeline of dresses starts with Victorian mourning gowns in the 1800s and ends with present day cocktail attire,” said Audience Engagement Director Mary Mikel Stump. “We’ve paired original artwork by women from each decade with the dresses. Visitors can see how forms followed norms through the design of the clothing. It’s a delightful opportunity to teach history through material culture from the Historical Society’s collection. We’re kicking off the upcoming Year of the Woman, the 2020 suffrage centennial, with this exhibition, highlighting women in our society.”

Don’t miss the Little Black Dress Fashion Show on the evening of Friday, October 18, at the History Museum. This ticketed event will feature DJ Action Slacks and emcee Amanda Westbrook with local icons, leaders, and celebrities as models wearing black dresses and pantsuits, courtesy of vintage clothiers in Tacoma.

Little Black Dress closes on December 5, following the museum’s History After Hours Bootleggers Ball event that same evening. More information at

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