Project Vision

Project Vision

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The Wisconsin Historical Society is among the nation’s oldest, largest and most active state historical societies and we steward one of the most significant collections in North America. We are carrying that legacy into the future with an unforgettable history center that is worthy of, and will provide unprecedented access to, our state’s world-class historical collections.

From the galleries to the gathering spaces,
this is a place for all of Wisconsin to enjoy and take pride in.

Center for American History

As a premier center for American history, guests will explore the characteristics that define and distinguish Wisconsin’s history, set in a broader American and global context. This will be a place where everyone will find themselves and a piece of their history in different ways.

As the Wisconsin Historical Society’s flagship venue, the center will inspire curiosity through unparalleled access to the state’s collections and resources, and will host major traveling blockbuster exhibitions and public events that draw visitors and virtual participants from Wisconsin and beyond. Wisconsin’s new history center will embody the Society’s commitment to inclusion, representation and meaningful engagement.

Flagship Venue
Center for Community Engagement

As a hub for engaging communities across the region, the center will be a welcoming space for all to explore, reflect and be inspired. History makers from all walks of life will have opportunities to share their stories and a strong network of community partners will foster genuine collaboration and civic engagement across all 72 counties.

Why now?

The former museum exhibitions were housed in what was previously a hardware store, greatly limiting the ability to properly share and display our state’s stories. The idea of a new history museum has existed for over two decades, with bipartisan support and planning by Govs. Tommy Thompson, Jim Doyle, Scott Walker and Tony Evers.

Former Wisconsin governors Tommy Thompson (left) and Jim Doyle enjoy a laugh during the First Look at Wisconsin’s New History Center event, held June 3, 2023 at the Wisconsin Historical Society headquarters

Isn’t it nice to have some bipartisanship in the state of Wisconsin? The nice thing about (the project) is that I started it, but Gov. Doyle carried it through. Now we’re on the precipice of this fantastic opportunity. Across from our beautiful state Capitol is going to be this glorious building that people from all over will come visit. We will become a destination center for history.

Republican governor (1987-2001)
co-chair of the Campaign for a New Wisconsin History Center

This is really a personal mission for me. I grew up no more than 10 blocks from the Wisconsin Historical Society. This is a state that loves its history, loves its communities, and loves its people. History is part of who we are. We are at a moment of doing something spectacular to preserve and present the historical record of Wisconsin. This is our moment. On, Wisconsin!

Democratic governor (2003-2011)
co-chair of the Campaign for a New Wisconsin History Center

Designing the Vision

Now, the vision is becoming a reality. We have assembled an industry-leading design team that is hard at work creating an inspiring and dynamic history center for Wisconsin residents across all 72 counties and beyond.