COVID-19 Updates: The Wisconsin Historical Society hours have changed. See a full list of COVID-19 Closures and Events HERE.

Share Your Voice: Madison (Goodman Center) | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Share Your Voice: Madison (Goodman Center)

Residents discuss plans for a new Wisconsin history museum

Share Your Voice: Madison (Goodman Center) | Wisconsin Historical Society
Christian Overland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society, welcomes guests to the "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center on the Near East Side of Madison.


Christian Øverland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society, welcomes guests to the "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center on the Near East Side of Madison.


Story by Katie Shapiro, Wisconsin Historical Society
Photos by Keri O'Keefe, Wisconsin Historical Foundation


MADISON — Residents braved the cold to attend a Wisconsin Historical Society “Share Your Voice” new museum listening session Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center on Madison's Near East Side, one of several “Share Your Voice” events to be held this year in Wisconsin's capital city.

The Goodman Center’s historic Brassworks facility, built in 1918 and recently renovated, provided the perfect backdrop for the event. History enthusiasts and community leaders came together for a lively discussion that will inform the Society's planning for a new Wisconsin history museum on the state's Capitol Square.

Christian Øverland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society, provided the welcome for the evening, noting that “this is your meeting,” and encouraging attendees to be honest and open with their feedback. Øverland’s welcome was followed by a video introducing the new museum project and highlighting its overall storytelling theme, “What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?”

Øverland then engaged guests in three workshop-type activities in which they shared topics of local importance, reacted to early concept exhibit design renderings and shared their most memorable museum experiences.

EnlargeGuests write down their thoughts on Post-It notes for an exercise during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.


Guests write down their thoughts on Post-It notes for an exercise during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.

The first activity focused on the question “What about Dane County makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?” The Capitol Square and its many historic buildings was discussed, along with the political diversity of Wisconsin. “We are the state of Bob LaFollette and Joseph McCarthy,” remarked one guest. Others brought up the long history of the American Indian tribes in our state and the many ancient earthworks in Dane County.

The second activity started with an overview of several early exhibit design renderings. “What you are about to see are concepts for the new museum,” Øverland said. “The footprint on this building is massive, around 100,000 square feet.”

The conversation was then opened up for comments and questions regarding the designs.

When discussing renderings that show how the museum orientation space and its giant video boards can transform into a presentation space, people appreciated its flexibility. It is a space that can change easily and be adapted to accommodate school groups and presentations. “Great way to keep exhibits timely and evolving,” remarked one attendee. However, concerns of the space being too large and overwhelming were also voiced.

Other comments centered around the “Industrial Innovation” rendering. Some felt it difficult to relate to the large turbine pictured, but appreciated the immersive nature of the exhibit concept. “This could be a museum of its own!” one guest added.

When discussing the “Laboratory of Democracy” rendering, many were intrigued by its use of newspapers. One guest noted “One thing I’m thinking about is how to ground with the present and future. What does it mean to even be looking at a newspaper (today)?” Another wrote in a feedback form provided at the session: “How do we discuss and contextualize news of the past as local Wisconsin newspapers are dying?”

Attendees also emphasized the need to focus on artifacts, not just immersive environments. "The reason people visit physical museums is for the authentic experience with objects and stories," said a guest. "Let’s have more of that in these plans.”

Overland reassured the audience that the renderings aren't final, only represent 1/50th of the museum and that artifacts will play a central role in exhibit plans.

Beyond the renderings, attendees had questions and comments about potential congestion on the Square with more than 150,000 guests expected to visit the museum annually, as well as concerns about the Churchill building, which could be razed to make room for the expanded museum and private development footprint. In April 2018, the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation withdrew its historic landmark nomination of the 1915 building — which some consider to be Madison's "first skyscraper" — after learning of the Society's museum plans and realizing that preserving the building would significantly limit the museum's design plan.

The evening ended with guests discussing museums or exhibit experiences that moved them. The Memphis National Civil Rights Museum, the Freedom Rides Museum, and Pendarvis (one of the Society’s historic sites) were mentioned, among others.

Many hoped the new museum would become a destination for visitors to our state.

“The new museum creates an opportunity for visitors to learn about Wisconsin’s past,” wrote one participant. “We have so much to be proud of in Wisconsin.”

 

Guests review exhibit design concept renderings for a new museum.


Guests review and write down their comments about early exhibit design concept renderings for a new Wisconsin history museum Feb. 21, 2019 at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session at Madison's Goodman Community Center.

Guests review materials explaining the Wisconsin Historical Society's plan for a new Wisconsin history museum Feb. 21, 2019 at the "Share Your Voice" listening session at Madison's Goodman Community Center.


Guests look over materials explaining the Wisconsin Historical Society's plan to build a new Wisconsin history museum during the Feb. 21, 2019 "Share Your Voice" listening session at Madison's Goodman Community Center.

Guests place stickers on early concept exhibit design renderings during an exercise at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.


A man places one of his preference stickers on an early concept exhibit design rendering during an
exercise at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held
Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.

Guests place preference stickers on early concept exhibit design renderings during an exercise at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.


Guests place preference stickers on early concept exhibit design renderings during an exercise
at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held
Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.

Guests examine early concept exhibit design renderings during an exercise at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.


Women examine early concept exhibit design renderings during an exercise at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.

A guest looks over Post-It note suggestions that were posted on theme boards during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening sessions Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.


A woman looks over Post-It note suggestions that were posted on theme boards during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening sessions Feb. 21, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.

Guests participate in the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held Feb. 21, 2019 at Madison's Goodman Community Center. It was one of five public sessions to be held in Madison.


Guests participate in the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session held Feb. 21, 2019 at Madison's Goodman Community Center. It was one of five public sessions to be held in Madison. 

This word cloud was created from Post-It note suggestions by attendees at the Feb. 21, 2019 "Share Your Voice" session at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.

Madison (Goodman Center) Word Cloud

This word cloud was created from Post-It note suggestions by attendees at the Feb. 21, 2019 "Share Your Voice" session at the Goodman Community Center in Madison.