These museums aren’t world famous, and that’s part of their charm. Their collections are truly a surprise – including amazing items pulled from attics and trunks of local residents. The museums are a fun way to learn about vacation destinations and offer information on the people who came before. Parents: bring your kids – it’s never too early to inspire a love of history and these museums are a great place for young people to learn about Wisconsin’s early days.
One of the best parts of these museums is how easy it is to visit the collections. No long lines, expensive tickets or parking fees at these institutions. All you need is the desire to spend a few pleasant moments learning about the past.
NorthWaters Museum – fish tales
Do Land O’ Lakes fishing guides ever run out of great stories? Nope. Even when a Land O’ Lakes guide retires, his stories live on. This museum celebrates the rich fishing tradition of Land O’ Lakes by preserving and sharing the fascinating history of local guides. These guides include Elmer Caskey, who became an adopted member of the Lac Vieux Desert Chippewa Indian tribe.
His clients included Dwight and the infamous murderers Leopold and Loeb. Learn about Harry Moderha, who lives in a log cabin with a family of skunks. These guide stories arrived as a special exhibition but are becoming part of the museum’s permanent collection. A new exhibition will detail what the Land O’ Lakes educational system was like a century ago, when the area’s economy was transitioning from logging to outdoors tourism.
Oshkosh Public Museum – Apostles Clock
For more than 70 years, the Oshkosh Public Museum has housed a superb example of Wisconsin folk art. The eight-foot tall Apostles Clock, completed in 1895, features a brilliant display of lights, music and master clockworks. Each hour, figurines that represent Jesus and the twelve Apostles emerge as music plays from the clock’s Regina music box. The clock plays 50 different tunes, from hymns to jigs to Christmas carols. The clock is one of the few monumental clocks in existence today. The clock is just one of the impressive exhibits you’ll find in the Oshkosh Public Museum.
Black River Falls
Jackson County Museum – dental office
We all enjoy visits to the dentist a lot more when they are over. With that in mind, be glad that one of the exhibits in the Jackson County Museum details days in the dentist chair long, long ago. A preserved dental office is just one of the unusual and intriguing displays you’ll find in the Jackson County Historical Society collections. Discover: a Victorian-era bedroom, a large trivet collection, flood artifacts, a square grand piano, logging artifacts and a funeral display.
Vilas County Museum – Eliason snowmobile
While the snowmobiles that carve the trails today are faster than some cars – and sometimes, more expensive – there was a day when snowmobiles were little more than a wooden sled and a small boat motor. Revisit those days in the Vilas County Museum, which features an original 1924 Carl Eliason machine – the world’s first snowmobile. The museum, founded in 1959, features a collection of historic exhibits and artifacts that date to the 1800s.