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.
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.
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.
Café Belwah presents inventive cuisine and sophisticated adult beverages in a refined yet relaxed atmosphere. Hearty breakfast choices, such as pancakes topped with sautéed apples, bananas, and homemade butter-pecan syrup ($7), imbue diners with the strength to speed-read encyclopedias or move mountains just a touch to the left. Lunchtime arrives with salads, soups, and sandwiches, including the croissant-borne crab-cake sandwich with chipotle tartar sauce ($10). Café Belwah's wines, specialty cocktails, martinis, and beers flirt with the brain's happy centers and the knees' wobble buttons, and dependable menu standbys are frequently crafted with local ingredients, including the likes of roasted duck with cranberry chutney ($24) and mushroom ravioli genovese ($17).
Rife with presidential artifacts from Ulysses S. Grant to Ronald Reagan and pop-culture memorabilia from Elvis Presley to Ghostbusters, the 36,000-square-foot Historic Auto Attractions curates an eclectic collection of historical and pop-culture memorabilia through 11 themed rooms. Visitors can peruse World Leaders to see the limousines of Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as the personal cars of Adolf Hitler, Nikita Khrushchev, and Benito Mussolini. President Kennedy's assassination is revisited at the Kennedy Day In Dallas exhibit, which displays the actual Secret Service car that drove behind Kennedy's car in the presidential motorcade, as well as the ambulance that took Lee Harvey Oswald to the hospital after Jack Ruby shot him. The museum's new Abraham Lincoln display introduces history buffs to Lincoln's White House rocking chair, his personal razor blade, and his beloved Captain America comic-book collection.
Since Freeport Art Museum opened in 1975, its collection has ballooned to include nearly 4,000 pieces. The number is apt, since the artifacts – from Hellenistic gold jewelry to 19th-century Italian marble statues – encompass 4,000 years of work from all continents and time periods. The nonprofit museum reserves its remaining gallery space for work by contemporary regional artists, as well as travelling exhibitions.
Said space once belonged to a historic elementary school, a lineage that befits the museum's mission to inform visitors about art's global history and future. Through its educational programs, Freeport continues fulfilling that mission with events such as artists talks and classes on subjects such as graffiti art.