The Wisconsin Historical Society preserves the knowledge, artifacts, and historic sites that have popped up over the course of Wisconsin's tenure as a territory and state. Browse the hallowed halls of history in the historical museum, the First Capitol, or the Wade House, an 1844 settlement home. Click here to see a full listing of the sites maintained by the society.
Across the three floors of the award-winning Madison Children's Museum, youngsters up to 12 years old explore, learn, and most important, have fun, in a variety of interactive environments. The littlest visitors can wander through the Wildernest, a rustic play-space built almost entirely from natural materials and sustainably harvested hardwoods. Toddlers climb into the raised treehouse or take temporary residence in a mini-village of activity huts made from straw and mud. Suspended above the Wildernest is the Bone Ridge, an elevated walkway designed to resemble the vertebrae of a large animal, perhaps a sea serpent or a giant's pet snake. Afterwards, visitors can refuel with a snack at The Roman Candle Sparkler, and maybe even dessert, made of cloth and felt, at Pie in the Sky Diner, all while the museum mascot, Gertrude the Cow, hangs from the ceiling and keeps watch.
The apex of MCM, the Rooftop Ramble, stands tall above a sweeping view of the Madison skyline, two lakes, and the museum itself. Kids can explore the wonders of the greenhouse and live-animal terrariums. This outdoor garden can be enjoyed by a wide age-range: adults sip cocktails among fluttering chickens and homing pigeons during private events--from weddings to family reunions and corporate events.
Madison Children's Museum is also a popular destination for birthday parties. The team makes each celebration unforgettable by taking care of all the essential party details, from providing the cake to adding a special theme, such as dinosaurs, legos, or mystery.
Barry Levenson can tell you the exact date he became a mustard collector: October 28, 1986. It was the early morning after his beloved Boston Red Sox lost the World Series, and he was wandering an all-night grocery store "looking for the meaning of life," as his website puts it. Then, in a flash, it hit him: mustard. Barry would amass the world's largest collection, and people would journey from miles around to see it.
This unlikely epiphany set the course for the next 30 years of Barry's life. He began snatching up every type of mustard he could get his hands on, which wasn't always easy given his time-consuming job as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin. Once he even snagged a jar from a hotel hallway?and stored it in his pocket during a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. No one could accuse Barry of lacking commitment to his vision.
By 1992, he had compiled a large enough collection to open his dream museum. Today, the National Mustard Museum stands more than 5,624 mustards strong. The premier attraction?The Great Wall of Mustard?represents all 50 states and more than 70 countries. Elsewhere, visitors can play a Food Whiz game or gaze at a collection of antique mustard pots, tins, and advertisements. Of course, there are ample opportunities to taste the mustard, too. Visitors can typically sample around 500 varieties, and then pick a favorite one to buy and take home.
At Art & Soul Tattoo and Gallery, artists decorate more than bodies. They also adorn the walls. In addition to its staff of talented tattoo, piercing, and permanent-makeup artists, the business also welcomes local painters and sculptors to showcase their work in the gallery. So on their way to commission some fresh ink, customers can peruse and purchase a slightly less permanent form of art.
According to historic record, no parts of the Underground Railroad are documented to have been located underground, except one. And that is where Milton House comes into play. Built in 1844 by Joseph Goodrich, an inn owner known for his stance against slavery, the structure?s underground tunnel led to a basement that became a safe place where runaway slaves could rest and hide away from prying eyes before finishing their journeys. Today, the hexagon-shaped building stands as one the oldest poured-concrete structure in the United States. Tours and exhibits send guests back in time to learn about Wisconsin?s role as a Northern state before the Civil War and how the Goodrich family secretly operated its safe haven.
Completed in 1892 as the private home of the Pabst family, Pabst Mansion stands as the last bastion of more than 80 mansions built for Milwaukee’s elite during a booming, bygone era. Since its construction, the estate has housed archbishops, priests, and sisters and was saved from near-demolition during the 1970s. The Flemish-Renaissance-Revival home has since been awarded a place on the National Register of Historic Places for its bounty of architectural intricacies.
Today, on-staff docents conduct a range of tours for public groups, private parties, school groups, and well-behaved rugby teams through the fortress of halls, opulent rooms, and verdant grounds, each restored to their original condition.
The Pabst Mansion’s impressive art collection includes works from the 1640s through the 1900s by artists such as William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Gaetano Trentanove, and Eugene Joseph Verboeckhoven. The emporium of excess also features Pabst Beer Pavilion, the pavilion built for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the glass-covered conservatory where tropical plants and beer trees continue to flourish.
The mansion gift shop holds classic Pabst drinkware and memorabilia as well as antique photos, books, and former employees' original finger paintings.