WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Garden volunteer and guest work with some plants

About Us

Our Story

About Us

At Old World Wisconsin your day will be engaging, enriching, authentic, relevant, and fun. This means letting you encounter history by exploring sensory rich spaces, stories, and hands on exploration.

Each area at Old World Wisconsin showcases different stories from Wisconsin’s immigrant past. As you tour at your own pace, you will find buildings that let you self-explore, gardens to wander through, and costumed staff ready to help you get hands-on with history. You will travel in time from the 1840s to the 1910s, experiencing daily life as you help with chores and cooking, try your hand at crafts and trades, and play – even the grownups!

We want everyone to have a fun and engaging day filled with stories and lots of questions. Our mission is to collect, preserve, and share stories; By visiting Old World Wisconsin you become a part of Wisconsin’s story. Welcome!

Our History

Old World Wisconsin opened its doors in 1976- celebrating the 200th birthday of the United States by vividly recreating the sights, sounds and spirit of the immigrants who came to this country to build their futures.

The museum’s more than 60 historic structures range from ethnic farmsteads with furnished houses and rural outbuildings, to the 1880’s Crossroads Village with its traditional small-town institutions. The efforts of countless historians have preserved the spaces of Wisconsinites whose stories still echo the hopes, struggles, and resilience that have meaning today.

To create this museum, researchers traveled throughout Wisconsin in search of authentic historic buildings hewn by generations of Wisconsin settlers.
From Lake Superior to the Illinois border, and from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, historians documented many old farmhouses, outbuildings, and small-town structures. Once the research was complete, the amazing construction process of Old World Wisconsin began.

Piece by piece, workers painstakingly dismantled the old structures. They numbered bricks, boards and logs, and moved them to the site of Old World Wisconsin. In a setting largely unchanged from the rolling prairies the first pioneers found, the buildings took shape once more, reconstructed precisely as they had once been built.
Today, Old World Wisconsin is always growing and changing. With the addition of new structures, new gardens, new livestock, and newly uncovered stories, a visit here is a wonderful mix of history and fresh experiences – one that is sure to make a memory for every guest.

Explore Old World Wisconsin

Food Preparation Methods

Hands-on Activities

Historic Breeds of Animals

Heirloom Gardens