Wisconsin Historical Society: Wisconsin Historical Museum Plans Transition of Artifacts to Make Way for New History Center


Madison, Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Historical Society is approaching a pivotal moment on the road to building a new history center. Over the next few months, Society staff will bag the artifacts at the Wisconsin Historical Museum and place them in a safe place at the State Archive Preservation Facility. The museum’s exhibits will be dismantled in phases, with the third and fourth floors closing on September 12 and the second floor closing on November 28. School visits will continue through December and the first floor retail store is expected to remain open through 2023.

“With the final site of the new history center selected and the architectural and experiential design underway, the time has come to begin the monumental task of carefully moving the museum’s artifacts into safe storage,” said Christian Overland, director and CEO of Ruth and Hartley Barker. of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “Now is the time to celebrate a museum that has touched the lives of so many and look forward to an exciting future for history and culture enthusiasts in Wisconsin and our country.”

The Society will continue to serve Wisconsin residents and schools across the state during the transition period before the doors of the new history center open. Plans are being developed to offer programs and special exhibits at the Wisconsin State Capitol building and to offer touring installations, programs and virtual offerings throughout the state.

“In the absence of a physical building, we are creating a ‘museum without walls’ that will connect with people, communities and stories across Wisconsin’s 72 counties,” Overland said. “We feel energized by the challenge of making history accessible and engaging in new and rewarding ways.”

Demolition of the current museum and construction of the new history center is scheduled to begin in 2024, after planning permission is granted by the State Building Commission. The new history center will use the site of the current Wisconsin Historical Museum as well as two adjacent properties in Madison’s Capitol Square. The new facility will more than double the exhibition space of the current museum and is expected to welcome more than 200,000 visitors per year.

Funding for the new building was successfully secured with $70 million in state support and $30 million in private donations. An additional $20 million in donations is needed for programming, collections, and an endowment needed to support the history center.

For more information on the new history center project, visit wisconsinhistory.org/historycenterand tune in to the Wisconsin Historical Society’s social media accounts in the coming weeks for a behind-the-scenes look at some of the museum’s top treasures as they are packaged for safe storage.

About the Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, is one of the largest, most active, and most diverse state historical societies in the nation. As a state agency and private organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Society serves millions of people each year through a wide range of sites, programs, and services. The Wisconsin Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, receives grants and private contributions to benefit the Wisconsin Historical Society and administers the membership program. For more information, visitwww.wisconsinhistory.org.

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Patrick F. Williams