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Explore History In A New Way

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

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About Us

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!


Learn with the Wisconsin Historical Society

Virtual and In-person Programs

Get ready to give your young learners the best field trip memory of the year. WHS is excited to bring back our popular sensory-rich, wonder-filled, on-site Field Trips at our historic sites and museums. We are also continuing our live, interactive online programs to bring creativity, critical thinking, and empowered storytelling into your classroom!

Wisconsin Historical Society Sites

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