Guide to Wisconsin museums

Wisconsin enjoys a wealth of museums, including some that cover surprising or humorous topics. Here are five “quirky” museums to incorporate in your tours of the state.

 
 

Brian Jewell
Published February 10, 2014

World of Accordions

Superior

Whether it’s raucous German polka music or romantic Italian ballads, you’ll find accordions in many types of traditional music. And you’ll find many traditional accordions at the World of Accordions.

This museum is part of the Harrington Arts Center, a complex that also includes a repair shop, technicians’ school and concert hall focused solely on the accordion. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of accordion-family instruments and cultural artifacts.

www.accordionworld.com

 

National Mustard Museum

Middleton

Barry Levinson was an attorney by trade, but found his life’s passion when be began collecting mustard. His collection has grown to encompass more than 5,600 varieties of mustard from all 50 states and 70 foreign countries, and it’s housed in the National Mustard Museum.

The museum is home to hundreds of historic mustard items, including all manner of mustard containers and vintage mustard advertisements. Visitors will find such unique elements as a mustard vending machine, mustard-themed merchandise and a mustard tasting bar. Admission to the museum is free.

www.mustardmuseum.com

 

The Angel Museum

Beloit

St. Paul Catholic Church makes a fitting home for the Angel Museum, which displays a collection of angel figurines and angel-themed memorabilia 13,600 strong. The collection started with Joyce Berg, a local woman, and has grown with contributions from hundreds of people around the world.

Visitors to the museum can see 11,000 of the collections angels, which range in size from one-eighth inch to six feet tall and are made of materials from porcelain to macaroni. Of special interest are 600 African American angels donated by Oprah Winfrey, who received the angels as gifts from her fans.

www.angelmuseum.org

 

National Brewery Museum

Potosi

It should come as no surprise that a state with a rich beer heritage would have a museum dedicated to beer. And although it’s located in the small village of Potosi, the National Brewery Museum is a big deal, serving as the official destination for beer lovers seeking to learn about the history of their favorite beverage.

Visitors to the museum will see historic beer labels and bottles, as well as vintage beer ads, coasters, signs, glassware and other memorabilia. Exhibits also detail the history of the beer industry in America and in the Potosi area. On the first floor of the museum, the Potosi Breweries offers tastings of traditional beers and seasonal microbrews.

www.potosibrewery.com

 

Circus World

Baraboo

You may not know the town of Baraboo, but students of circus history do: At one time, Baraboo was home to the three largest circus companies in the world. Today it’s home to Circus World, a museum run by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The museum was opened by an attorney of the Ringling family on the original headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus. The 64-acre National Historic Site displays circus memorabilia and artifacts in some of the original Ringling buildings on campus, as well as an animated miniature circus.

circusworld.wisconsinhistory.org