History Of Old World Wisconsin
The broad sweep of Wisconsin history embodied in Old World Wisconsin's historic farm and village buildings began as Wisconsin's way of celebrating America's bicentennial. The museum, the largest of its kind in the world dedicated to the history of rural life, opened in 1976 to commemorate 200 years of American history. But the museum's story begins long before then.
To make it happen, researchers traveled the state — from Lake Superior to the Illinois border, and from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan — in search of authentic historic buildings hewn by generations of Wisconsin settlers. Historians not only documented the farmhouses, outbuildings, and small-town structures that still stood, they also researched the lives of the people who built them, worked in them, and lived in them. Piece by piece, workers painstakingly dismantled these fading old relics, numbered bricks, boards and logs, and moved them to Old World Wisconsin. There, in a setting largely unchanged from the rolling prairies the first pioneers found, the buildings took shape once more.
Today, the museum has grown to include more than 60 historic structures, from ethnic farmsteads that include furnished houses and rural outbuildings to a crossroads village with its traditional small-town institutions.