Sitting on over 400 acres in the heart of the Kettle Moraine State Forest is Old World Wisconsin. Old World Wisconsin is a living, breathing museum depicting American life in the 1800’s. While similar villages and museums can be found throughout the country, none can rival the size of Old World Wisconsin. This is the largest museum of this type in the country.
The museum is home to over 60 different buildings and structures. When the grounds opened in 1974, there were originally 8 structures on the property. Over time, historic buildings from Wisconsin have been dismantled from their original locations and brought to Old World Wisconsin to be resurrected. The buildings are laid out in a manner to reflect various ethnic groups. These groups, or villages, provide a sense of continuity.
This farm belongs to a group of buildings in the Finnish village. The small building to the right was the outhouse!
Old World Wisconsin is far more than just buildings and villages. They are living, functioning settlements. Throughout the various villages, you will encounter people going about their daily life. You might come upon a blacksmith forging wagon wheels or horse shoes, a teacher giving a lesson in the school house, or a woman tending to her chores while her husband plows the fields.
These people who breathe life into the village are the real magic to the village. Rather than just meander throughout the streets, they serve a purpose. They are in tune with the buildings, the tools of the era and lifestyle. In Old World Wisconsin, a spinning wheel is not just an accent piece for an old home, but rather a functioning tool used daily to make clothing or linens.
Even more astonishing is that the supplies used in conjunction with the tools actually comes from the fields and gardens of Old World Wisconsin. The cotton used in the spinning wheel is from one of the many living fields on the property. As you walk into the small homes, you will notice the tables have fresh fruit, eggs and bread. All of this comes from the land.
In the school house, you may find yourself learning about the history of Wisconsin and how in 1848 it became a state. Perhaps you will need to grab a piece of chalk to do some arithmetic on your slate. Watch your manners or you could end up in the corner with the dunce hat!
Old World Wisconsin is perfect for the entire family. The interactive atmosphere with the early pioneers provides the chance to ask questions, participate in various tasks and be part of the history that Old World Wisconsin has worked so well to preserve.