WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Explore

Explore

Explore History in a New Way

Unplug and experience firsthand the daily life of Wisconsin’s early immigrants.

About Us

Kid opening a glowing door... into the past?

Old World Wisconsin includes 60 beautifully restored historic structures on over 600 acres of picturesque landscape. Through stories of perseverance, you explore the lives of those who came before us – connecting people and inspiring understanding. Your day will be fun, engaging, enriching, and authentic as you encounter history by exploring sensory-rich spaces, stories, and hands-on activities.

Each area at Old World Wisconsin showcases different stories. As you travel through time from the 1840s to the 1910s, you will find historic spaces to explore, gardens and trails to wander through, and costumed staff ready to help you get hands-on with history. You will also meet a variety of animals that helped our ancestors survive and thrive in this new world. Experience the daily life of the people who called these buildings home as you help with chores and cooking, try your hand at crafts and trades, and play – yes, even the grownups!

Things To Explore

People riding a carriage in OWW pulled by 2 horses

Crossroads Village

To be successful often required immigrants to take risks and learn to adapt to changing circumstances. Walk through our “Main Street,” explore small town life, and learn how these settlers were able to adjust to ever-changing conditions. Shop in the general store, hear the hammer in the blacksmith shop, see the church pews, and tour homes from Irish and Yankee immigrants.

Rancher teaching kids how to use a tool inside of a barn

Life on the Farms

Rural ingenuity enabled immigrants to live off their own resources with little or no cash income. See how farming traditions from the old world gave way to new ones in response to the land and resources. Learn about an early African American community in Wisconsin, and explore homesteads from Pomeranian, Polish, and Hessian immigrants.

Young girl spinning wool

Scandinavian Homesteads

Survival in the new world was not guaranteed and perseverance was critical in order to survive. Experience firsthand the stories of creating a home and surviving in a new place. Take in a lesson at the Raspberry School and explore homes from Finnish, Danish, and Norwegian immigrants.

Man and child riding an early high-wheel bicycle

Catch Wheel Fever

Discover how sports, technological innovations, and shared social spaces were key in creating community identity and connecting lives near and far. Hop on an early high-wheel bicycle and see how communities came together in the club hall.

Piglet looking to the right

Heritage Animal Breeds

Every animal you meet during your visit is a Heritage Breed – a traditional livestock breed of cows, horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, and more. Please ask our Historic Farmers for safe ways to engage with the animals. The Historic Farmers have fun stories about the animals too!

Shopping

Clausings Barn

Clausing Barn Café

Friday – Sunday  |  11 AM – 3 PM

Enjoy a simple, seasonal lunch inspired by our immigrant kitchens at this café located near the site entrance. Cold drinks and premium ice cream is always available. Seating is located outside on the garden patio or inside the air-conditioned café.

Crossroads Creamery

Friday – Sunday  |  11 AM – 5 PM

Relax and refuel. During your journey, you can grab a snack at the Creamery located in the Crossroads Village. If you purchase a Time Travel Token from the museum store, you can redeem it for soda water in the Four Mile House.

Shopping

Museum Store

Visit the museum store to take a little of the Old World Wisconsin experience home with you.
You’ll find favorites like lavender soap and yarn from Old World’s sheep, along with handmade textiles and leather goods, gifts, jewelry, and inspirations for your home or hobby.
Enjoy 10 percent off store items as a Wisconsin Historical Society member.

Learn With The Wisconsin Historical Society

A computer at a desk showing a virtual program

Learn With Us Virtually!

Live virtual programs in your classroom or on your learners’ screens!

Building on what teachers and students love about in-person visits to our museums and historic sites, these live, interactive programs will bring creativity, critical thinking, and empowered storytelling into your home or classroom.

Explore Programs

Older man great mustache hold lamb with little girl

Field Trips

A Field Trip to Old World Wisconsin is where memories are made! Thinking about sharing Old World Wisconsin with your students? We have redesigned our Field Trip programs based on new standards, new experiences, and feedback!

Learn More

Workshops

Discover a new craft as you step back in time at our Workshops!  These one-day classes are a chance for guests to try their hand at a historic skill alongside our professional staff in the beautiful setting of Old World Wisconsin.

Learn More

Summer Camps

Summer Camps at Old World Wisconsin are adventure-filled, educational, and, of course, FUN! Camps run from June through August with programming for kids entering first grade and older. There’s even a new camp for adults to join in the fun!

Learn More

Plan Your Event

Old World Wisconsin prides itself on providing everything needed to make your event historic. The site has beautiful and unique locations that help our clients stand out from the crowd and provide the perfect backdrop for weddings, reunions, and other private events. Your event tells an exciting story and adds another page in the history of Old World Wisconsin. We are proud to have your day become a part of that history.

Learn More

Wisconsin Historical Society Sites

Old World Wisconsin is one of 12 historic sites and museums owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Explore all of these sites below.

Become a Member

Black Point Estate, a view of the tower and the rest of the building, the clouds are beautiful and really frame the building.

Black Point Estate & Gardens

A circus cart on a lawn, bright red, yellow, and orange colors.

Circus World

An old fashioned camera is set up facing a dramatic photo backdrop

H.H. Bennett Studio & Museum

Wood building with antlers attached. A sign reads Museum

Madeline Island Museum

A group of people bail hay out of an old fashioned cart

Old World Wisconsin

Pendarvis house at dusk, orange colored brick and white trim windows and doors. A stone wall lines the house next to the road. The lamp is lit.

Pendarvis

A older white couple holding hands and walking towards the Stonefield buildings

Stonefield

The Villa Louis Manor on a sunny day, victorian architecture on elegant display

Villa Louis

People visiting the Arts and Crafts Fair at Wade House

Wade House

Walking by the Capitol Square

Wisconsin Historical Museum

Inside the Reed School classroom, with vintage desks and a chalkboard

Reed School

The two historical buildings of Wisconsin's First Capital

First Capitol

Learn more about all our sites here!

Spring Into The Past

May 9 – June 7 | Saturdays and Sundays only

Experience the traditional Old World journey through a self-guided exploration of the full site! Celebrate spring with us as we begin our springtime chores! Guests can check out the newest additions to our flocks and see how we transform wool from sheep to socks with hands-on experiences for all ages. Help prepare the gardens for the growing season and lend a hand in the kitchen or barn as you step back in time.

Man riding Old World bike with cute little girl in glasses

An Old World Summer

July 1 – Aug. 30

 Self- Guided Adventures | Friday – Sunday

Explore generations of Wisconsin’s stories as you create your own day of hands-on history. Walk or take the trams, go fast or slow, start in the 1840s or the 1910s! Make your day your way as you explore 600 acres and 60 buildings that bring immigrant and migrant stories to life. Shop in the general store, help in the kitchens, ride a vintage tricycle, learn to spin wool, or just stroll through a beautiful heirloom garden. The day, and the adventure, is yours!

OWW Tour Guide in Historical dress talking to a large group in front of a historic building

Guided Journeys | Monday – Thursday

Join a costumed host as they travel back in time with you by their side. Explore select historic spaces with an expert, and hear stories not shared on self-guided days. These small group experiences are perfect for those new to Old World Wisconsin, or those who want to dive deeper into the rich collection of stories of those who came to call Wisconsin home.

Fall Fun on the Farms

Sept. 9 – Oct. 16

 Self- Guided Adventures | Saturday – Sunday only

Come experience the harvesting, preserving, cooking, and community that comes with Fall Fun on the Farms! Everyone can lend a hand, try something new, and sneak a taste while exploring the past like never before.

Older man shows young kids how to use farming equipment

Wisconsin Journey | Wednesday – Friday

Join a costumed host as they travel back in time with you by their side. Explore select historic spaces with an expert, and hear stories not shared on self-guided days. These small group experiences are perfect for those new to Old World Wisconsin, or those who want to dive deeper into the rich collection of stories of those who came to call Wisconsin home.

Celebrate the holidays!

Old World Wisconsin closes for the season from Oct. 17, 2020 until May 2021, but the fun doesn’t end there! The site hosts holiday events through the Fall and Winter, including “Halloween Legends and Lore” in October and “An Old World Christmas” in December. Check out these and events happening throughout the year at Old World Wisconsin below.

Plan for 2021!

Winter is also the perfect time to plan for the upcoming season! Explore future
workshops, register for summer camps, and plan your next visit.

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