From Accordions to Mustard – 8 Must-See Wisconsin Museums

(Photo via Pexels)

By Fiona Hatch
August 26, 2023

Whether you enjoy art, history, or just a really spicy mustard, Wisconsin is filled with one-of-a-kind museums showcasing the state’s very best. Here are a few we believe everyone should visit at least once (alphabetical by city):

National Railroad Museum – Ashwaubenon

An engine exhibit at the National Railroad Museum (photo via the National Railroad Museum).

Walk through the history of the US railroad industry at the only Congressionally-designated National Railroad Museum. Established in 1956, there are more than 70 different kinds of trains in the museum. If you can, time your visit during one of the museum’s many special events.

Favorite Exhibit: Dwight D. Eisenhower

National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame – Hayward

Visitors exploring the lookout at the Shrine to Anglers exhibit at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame (photo via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

With more than 15,000 lakes, it makes sense the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is in Wisconsin. Learn about the history of the sport, explore the exhibits of boats and fish bait, or simply look at hundreds 

Favorite Exhibit: Shrine to Anglers

Chazen Museum of Art – Madison

Visitors exploring the second floor at the Chazen Museum (photo via U.S. News Travel).

With more than 1,600 paintings and 24,000 total works in their permanent collection, the Chazen Museum of Art is one of the Capitol City’s best museums. The Chazen recently received statewide recognition for its ‘Sifting & Reckoning’ exhibition, which explored more than 150 years of racism both on-campus and off.

Favorite Exhibit: Message From Our Planet (Temporary: February 19 – June 2, 2024)

Wisconsin Maritime Museum – Manitowoc

The USS Cobia World War II exhibit outside of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum (photo via Manitowac Area Visitor & Convention Bureau).

With both indoor and outdoor exhibits of the ship models that have sailed the Great Lakes, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum offers a unique look at Wisconsin’s history. Stop by the “Chief Wawatam Steam Engine Room” for a hands-on experience. And if you really want to immerse yourself, spend a night on the USS Cobia–a World War II submarine! 

Favorite Exhibit: Model Ship Gallery

National Mustard Museum – Middleton

Outside of the National Mustard Museum (photo via Wikipedia).

The National Mustard Museum is one of Wisconsin’s surprisingly famous landmarks–featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Jeopardy.” Since it opened in 1992, its mustard collection has grown to 6,000 different kids from all 50 states and 70 countries. Come hungry–you can sample more than 100 different flavors at the tasting bar! 

Favorite Exhibit: The Great Wall of Mustard

Milwaukee Art Museum – Milwaukee

Exterior of the Milwaukee Art Museum (photo via U.S. News Travel).

The Milwaukee Art Museum is easily one of the best, and most Instagrammable, spots in the state. There’s a painting for everyone–from abstract to realistic portraits and natural landscape scenes. However, it’s the sculpture exhibits where this museum really shines. Even the building itself is a modern masterpiece. 

Favorite Exhibit: Knowledge Beings 

Oshkosh Public Museum – Oshkosh

View of the Oshkosh Public Museum’s gardens (photo via Visit Oshkosh).

From gorgeous medieval architecture to vintage furniture and stained glass window art, the Oshkosh Public Museum is a history hodge-podge. Visit when it’s nice to walk the well-kept gardens and admire the museum’s mansion-like exterior. 

Favorite Exhibit: People of the Waters

World of Accordions Museum – Superior

Selection of accordions on display at the World of Accordions Museum (photo via Superior Telegram).

When “Up North,” check out the World of Accordions Museum–the largest collection of its kind in the world. See more than 1,300 one-of-a-kind instruments dating back centuries, read about history, and stick around for musical performances that are sure to get your feet tapping. 

Favorite Exhibit: Christian DiMaccio’s Hohner Accordion


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