About the Division of Museums and Historic Sites | Wisconsin Historical Society

Organizational Description

About the Division of Museums and Historic Sites

The Division of Museums and Historic Sites collects and preserves the material culture of Wisconsin and interprets the state's history and prehistory for the public. The division fulfills its educational role through exhibitions, tours and a variety of public programs conducted at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison, and at historic sites and other venues throughout the state.

EnlargeVisitor looking at Native American artifacts in an exhibit case.

Wisconsin Historical Museum, 2010

Visitors to the Wisconsin Historical Museum on Madison's Capitol Square see museum objects and hear stories of native people, settlement days, immigrants' experiences and politics

Wisconsin Historical Museum

The division operates the Wisconsin Historical Museum, located on Madison's Capitol Square. The museum supervises the preservation and development of artifact collections, and operates an archaeology program under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources. The building contains four floors of permanent and rotating exhibits, an orientation theater and a Museum store. Exhibits and programs document Wisconsin's history from prehistoric times to the present day, focusing on:

  • Prehistoric history and Wisconsin's settlement
  • Agricultural history, industry and tourism
  • Political and environmental history

Education Programs

The division offers instructional materials and programs to schools and teachers to assist them in teaching the history of Wisconsin.

Museum Archaeology Program (MAP)

The Museum Archaeology Program (MAP) actively engages in the identification and preservation of Wisconsin’s cultural resources and has been an active field research branch of the Wisconsin Historical Society since 1958. Learn more by clicking the link below.

Statewide Historic Sites

The division's 11 historic sites promote tourism and provide for the comprehensive study, appreciation and enjoyment of Midwestern frontier history. The sites contain historic structures and visitor service buildings that reflect major themes of Wisconsin history, such as ethnic pioneer settlement, mining, farming, fur trade, exploration, transportation, rural life, and town development. The division operates 10 historic sites. Circus World is operated by the Circus World Museum Foundation.

EnlargeChild looking at a rooster.

Old World Wisconsin, 2008

Visitors to Old World Wisconsin experience an era of life on the farm during the late 19th century, when waves of immigrants came to America's heartland in search of a better life

Black Point Estate, Lake Geneva, WI
Explore the grand estate and gardens of Chicago beer baron Conrad Seipp.
Circus World, Baraboo, WI
Visit America's circus museum, built on the original site of the Ringling Bros. Circus winter quarters.
First Capitol, Belmont, WI
Learn about the birthplace of Wisconsin's territorial government.
H.H. Bennett Studio, Wisconsin Dells, WI
See the historic studio of the man who made Wisconsin Dells famous.
Madeline Island Museum, La Pointe, WI
Visit the museum of Apostle Islands exploration and settlement.
Old World Wisconsin, Eagle, WI
Enjoy an outdoor living history museum of farm life.
Pendarvis, Mineral Point, WI
Discover a restored Cornish miners' colony.
Reed School, Neillsville, WI
Step into a 1940s one-room school.
Stonefield, Cassville, WI
Experience a 1900s farming village, Agricultural Museum and Governor Nelson Dewey home.
Villa Louis, Prairie du Chien, WI
Explore a magnificently restored Victorian country estate.
Wade House, Greenbush, WI
Visit an 1860s stagecoach inn, sawmill and carriage museum.

Wisconsin History Tour.
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