New Arrivals Campaign

New Welcome Experience

A brand-new Welcome Experience is coming to Old World Wisconsin.

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A HISTORIC TRANSFORMATION

Since its opening in 1976, Old World Wisconsin has become one of the more beloved and popular history attractions in the Midwest. The Wisconsin Historical Society is thrilled to launch improvements to the history attraction’s guest entry area, which has remained mostly unchanged over five decades.

A Guest Services Center, Brewhouse, 1930s tavern, outdoor Biergarten, utility upgrades and other improvements will make a visit to Old World Wisconsin an unforgettable experience unlike any other, while also helping sustain the site far into the future.

The brewhouse, which opened to the public in June 2022, marks the first of many improvements to Old World Wisconsin’s Welcome Experience.


WELCOME EXPERIENCE

ELEMENTS OF THE PROJECT

A reimagined Welcome Experience will better serve our guests at Old World Wisconsin, attract new visitors, and help this treasured 600-acre history attraction become more financially self-sustaining. This project has been made possible by support from the State of Wisconsin and generous private donors to the New Arrivals Campaign. Funds are still being raised to complete future phases of the project.

“This Brewing Experience, and the larger plan to reimagine our entire entry area, will transform how we’re able to serve guests for decades to come. We’re excited to see this dream become a reality, and grateful to all who donate to make it happen!”


Dan Freas
Old World Wisconsin Site Director

BREWING EXPERIENCE

Presented by the Cleary-Kumm Family

Guests will make lasting memories as they explore Wisconsin’s brewing heritage through demonstrations, workshops, tastings and other activities in The Brewhouse, immerse themselves in a 1930s rural Wisconsin tavern, and enjoy a festive, outdoor beer garden. 

The Brewhouse, which opened to the public in June 2022, taps into the state’s brewing past by creating immersive environments where you can see, smell, feel, and — of course — taste this history. You’ll get hands-on, see how beer is made, engage with beermakers and bartenders, and relax with a few cold ones on your own.

Wittnebel’s Tavern

Wittnebel’s Tavern, originally located 30 miles north of Old World Wisconsin in Old Ashippun, was founded in 1906 and operated by two generations of the Wittnebel family until 1987. It has been relocated to Old World Wisconsin and will be restored to its 1930s appearance. Exterior restorations were completed in June 2023 and interior renovations will be completed as funds are raised. The experience will be further enhanced by an outdoor Biergarten inspired by Wisconsin beer garden traditions introduced by German immigrants scheduled for completion in 2025.

Made possible in large part by the generosity of private donors through the New Arrivals Campaign, this long-envisioned experience will build on what has become one of the site’s more popular features: the historic brewing program created in partnership with the Museum of Beer and Brewing.

You can help complete this exciting project!

“The guest services center will meet an important and longtime need by dramatically improving our capacity to serve visitors to Old World Wisconsin. By providing this center with the modern amenities and services that guests expect, we will be able to help them better prepare for their day of adventure into history throughout our grounds.


-Nick Hoffman
Society’s administrator of historic sites and museums


Guest Service Center

In 2022, the Wisconsin Historical Society was awarded a $2.8 million federal grant to help build a new guest services center at Old World Wisconsin, as part of the Society’s efforts to reimagine the history attraction’s Welcome Experience. The entry and exit point for all visitors, the center features two buildings connected by an open-air plaza that will include upgraded restrooms, areas for ticketing and planning your visit, and a new museum store.

The grant was awarded from the Economic Development Administration: American Rescue Plan Act Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program and construction on the project is scheduled to begin in 2024. Additional elements of the Master Plan will follow completion of the first two phases only when funds are raised for each. Your financial support will make it happen!

We’re grateful to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and all who supported our application for this important and transformative funding.”


Christian Øverland
The Ruth and Hartley Barker Director & CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society


UTILITY AND SITE IMPROVEMENTS

Additional utility and service improvements will take place across the site as funds are available. These improvements are a key component of making Old World Wisconsin more accessible and will include parking lot additions and preparations for other building restorations and improvements across the site.

Over the next several years, improvements to the Welcome Experience will pave the way for future enhancements to the site to better serve visitors, school groups and communities.