WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Explore

Explore

About Us

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

Our Story

At Old World Wisconsin your day will be fun, engaging, enriching, and authentic. You and your family will encounter history by exploring sensory rich spaces, stories, and hands-on activities.

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!

Our mission is for everyone to have a fun and engaging day filled with stories and lots of questions. By visiting Old World Wisconsin you become a part of Wisconsin’s story. Welcome!

 

Our History

Old World Wisconsin opened its doors in 1976 with more than 60 historic structures ranging from ethnic farmsteads with furnished houses and rural outbuildings, to the Crossroads Village with its traditional small-town institutions.

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 that became the foundation for Old World Wisconsin.

Piece by piece, workers painstakingly dismantled the old structures by numbering bricks, boards and logs, and moving 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.

Things To Do

Man driving two horses on a plow

Spring Into The Past

Saturdays and Sundays only
May 9 – June 7 │ 10 AM – 5 PM

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.

Clausings Barn

Clausing Barn Café

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
through October 14th │ 12 AM – 3 PM

Food and beverages are available in the Clausing Barn Café. Located in the old milking parlor in the lower level of the barn, enjoy a simple, seasonal lunch inspired by the immigrant kitchens at Old World Wisconsin. Cold drinks and premium ice cream is always available. Seating is located outside on the garden patio or inside the air-conditioned café.

History of Clausing Barn

The barn was built in 1897 in Mequon (Ozaukee County) by German barn builder Ernst Clausing. Though Clausing built many octagonal barns, the barn that bears his name at Old World Wisconsin is among the few that survive.

Rent Clausing Barn for your event!

Guests peruse the museum store shop

Museum Store

Visit our charming on-site museum store to take a little of the Old World Wisconsin experience home with you.
You’ll find handcrafted soaps, cookies, baskets and other items that are sure to delight visitors of all ages, including:

    • books
    • old-fashioned games
    • T-shirts and gifts
    • prairie bonnets and quilts
    • hoops, sticks and other toys
    • seasonal treasures for your home

Enjoy 10 percent off store items as a Wisconsin Historical Society member.

Become a member

Education

A gentleman you might see on a field trip, great mustache

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 most importantly, feedback from you! Check out the options below to find the trip that’s right for you. A Field Trip to Old World Wisconsin consists of a set of programs and a scheduled lunch break (with games!) to give your students a hands-on, minds-on day of exploration and inquiry.

Learn More

Beautifully lit building filled with dried flowers and an lovely older woman

Spring Workshops

Discover a new craft as you step back in time at our Apprentice for a Day program!  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.

BLACKSMITHING 101: HOOKS & TRIANGLE
HISTORIC KITCHENS: FINNISH SWEETS
HEIRLOOM SEED STARTING
APPLE TREE PRUNING

Learn More

Summer Camps

Set in the beauty of a Wisconsin State Forest, nestled among historic buildings, camps at Old World Wisconsin are adventure-filled, educational, and, of course, FUN! Old World Wisconsin offers camps from June through August with programming for kids entering first grade and older. There’s even a new camp for adults!

WORLD OF LITTLE HOUSE
MAKERS’ CAMPS
WORLD OF LITTLE HOUSE FAMILY

Learn More