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

Share Your Voice: Barron County | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Share Your Voice: Barron County

Residents discuss plans for a new Wisconsin history museum

Share Your Voice: Barron County | Wisconsin Historical Society
Guests enjoy a laugh during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center in Cameron.

Carol Moen (second from right) and other guests enjoy a laugh during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center in Cameron.

 

Story and photos by Laura Ingersoll
Wisconsin Historical Foundation


CAMERON — Lumber. Agriculture. Tourism. Lakes. Packers. Native Nations. Community Festivals. Cheese! Those were just a few of the key words that kicked off the brainstorming about “What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin” during the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Barron County “Share Your Voice” new museum listening session May 29, 2019 at the Senior Center in Cameron, a small community tucked into the woods of beautiful northwest Wisconsin.

EnlargeBarron County Historical Society Director Tammy Schutz welcomes guests to the Cameron Senior Center May 29, 2019 for the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents.

Barron County Historical Society
Director Tammy Schutz welcomes
guests to the Cameron Senior
Center May 29, 2019 for the
Wisconsin Historical Society's
"Share Your Voice" new museum
listening session for Barron County residents.

Guests were welcomed by Tammy Schutz, Director of the Barron County Historical Society, whose network includes the delightful Pioneer Village Museum in Cameron.

The listening session was then formally kicked off by Alicia Goehring, Director of Special Projects and Interim Director of Programs and Outreach for the Wisconsin Historical Society. The session was one of more than 40 the Society is holding across the state to offer residents a chance to share ideas and provide feedback on preliminary concept exhibit design renderings for a new $120 million Wisconsin history museum that it plans to build on the state’s Capitol Square. The new museum is slated to open by 2024 or 2025 and will replace the current aging and undersized Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison.

Goehring also asked for a bit of information on who was in the audience (all Barron County residents) and introduced everyone to the new museum project with a Society video about the project and the museum's main storytelling theme, "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" Details on the project, as well as the video, can be found online at wisconsinhistory.org/newmuseum.

As the group moved in to discussion about “What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?” there was immediate excitement to talk about the Barron County region. The first comments were about the lumbering trade, with one guest mentioning that “almost the entire county was deforested.” The lumbering remark was quickly followed by a comment about the wonderful, clean, good water that can be found in the region. And beyond that, the waterways are something that drive the tourism and love of the area.

Another guest mentioned that in Barron County, everyone comes together as one. Summer festivals are always going on. “You can never get bored here, and that extends into the fall and winter!” a guest noted. Along that same theme of community engagement, fish fries, the Packers, and ethnic diversity were also mentioned as things that bond residents in the area.

Guests also discussed the significance of Wisconsin's Native Nations and, in particular, the presence and ongoing contributions of tribal nations and communities in this region of the state, particularly the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.

The program then turned to a review of concept exhibit design renderings and how they will impact the overall guest experience at the new museum. Guests were asked to offer their feedback on packet of the renderings so the Society can record comments and use them to inform the next phase of design. As Goehring displayed each rendering, she polled the room to see the group’s general response. Guests also shared more specific feedback about each design.

Guests generally liked the rendering of a large "Introduction and Orientation" area, which is a big, open room that features a giant digital screen of potentially dozens of images (or one large one). Another rendering showed how the atrium-like space could be transformed into a program area, with seats, that could digitally connect programming with cities across the state. Attendees wanted to make it clear, however, that it should be designed so visitors are not forced to walk through the space if it might feel too overwhelming to them. Another guest questioned how someone with different abilities, such as a visitor in a wheelchair, would experience this area. Goehring replied that all areas will be designed with top accessibility standards in mind.

The next rendering reviewed was a "Laboratory of Democracy" concept. One guest loved that it featured a large window with a view of the Capitol across the street, while another mentioned that the concept keeps the museum current and relates the experience to current events.

Conversation turned to a rendering of a whimsical art installation of a giant cow comprised of objects representing all 72 counties of Wisconsin. Attendees generally liked the idea of something that represents all 72 counties, but one guest commented that “art isn’t my thing,” and he didn’t see himself wanting to spend any time at an exhibit like this. One guest commented that art would be a draw for her, but the cow theme might be limiting interest.

A concept design called "Industrial Innovation" featured a replica of a giant turbine made for Niagara Falls by Wisconsin company Allis Chalmers, through which guests would walk and see images and information projected onto the walls, as well as hear sounds of the turbine and the falls. Attendees agreed that industry is incredibly important to Wisconsin. “I like the whole idea about immersion," a guest said. "If you’re standing there and you can hear the turbines whirring, it would give you the feeling that you’re really in it.”

A "Celebrating Community Introductory Theatre" concept showed one of the more intimate theatre areas that would be in the museum and provide space for teachers and student groups to learn. One guest said “orientation is always important,” while another said she liked the idea but “would want to get right to the meat and potatoes of things!”

Goehring than asked guests to share their most memorable museum experiences. Immediately, there were comments about immersive experiences. One guest reminisced about the Science Museum in Minnesota's cardiology exhibit, while another said that when visiting the Coal Mine exhibit at the Museum of Science Industry in Chicago as a kid, “the coal mine was SO real I thought the museum was really built out of coal!”

Another memorable experience was the “simple, little thing at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire.” The guest talked about a Hmong exhibit where a refrigerator would light up and a woman from Laos told a first-person story about her memory of moving to America and not knowing if the Jell-O in the fridge was food or something she should use to paint.

The evening brought many smiles, laughs, sharing of memories, and thoughtful discussion about what people from Barron County would want to see in a new Wisconsin history museum.   

Suggestions made on Post-It notes during the May 29, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents were turned into this word cloud, with the most suggested words in the biggest type.


Barron County word cloud

Suggestions made on Post-It notes during the May 29, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents were turned into this word cloud, with the most suggested words in the biggest type.

 

Lynn Gevens laughs with a fellow guest as they review a packet of new museum concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session May 29, 2019 in Cameron.

Lynn Gevens (left) laughs with a fellow guest as they review a packet of new museum concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session May 29, 2019 in Cameron.

Bob Schutz offers his thoughts during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Jack Nedland offers his thoughts during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Sarah Pica shares her thoughts about new museum ideas during the Wisconsin Historical Society's new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Sarah Pica shares her thoughts about new museum ideas during the Wisconsin Historical Society's new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Mary Metzger writes down her ideas for new museum topics on Post-It notes during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Mary Metzger writes down her ideas for new museum topics on Post-It notes
during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session
May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Carol Kettner is all smiles as she shares an idea at the Wisconsin Historical Society's new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Carol Kettner laughs during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center. 

Bob Schutz (left) and Betty Anne Benes (right) examine packets of concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 in Cameron.

Bob Schutz (left) and Betty Anne Benes (right) examine packets of concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 in Cameron.

 

 

John Peter and Carol Kettner write their comments on a packet of concept exhibit design renderings for a new state history museum during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session May 29, 2019 in Cameron.

John Peter and Carol Kettner write their comments on a packet of concept exhibit design renderings for a new state history museum during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session May 29, 2019 in Cameron.

Tammy Schutz, Director of the Barron County Historical Society, smiles as she writes comments during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents at the Cameron Senior Center.

Tammy Schutz, Director of the Barron County Historical Society, smiles as she writes down some comments during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

A guest raises her hand during the "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

A guest raises her hand during the "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center. 

Jodi Kiffmeyer writes ideas for a new state history museum on Post-It notes during an activity at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Jodi Kiffmeyer writes ideas for a new state history museum on Post-It notes during an activity at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center. 

Mark Dobberfuhl has a laugh with other guests at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Mark Dobberfuhl has a laugh with other guests at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session for Barron County residents May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Suggestions from guests on Post-It notes fill one of the new museum theme boards at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Suggestions from guests on Post-It notes fill one of the new museum theme
boards at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session
May 29, 2019 at the Cameron Senior Center.

Share Your Voice statewide map

"SHARE YOUR VOICE" STATEWIDE SESSION LOCATIONS