Wisconsin Historical Society details new Madison center and museum
In a few years, more Wisconsinites will be able to learn about North American history at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s new headquarters on Capitol Square in Madison.
The new five-story center will have a grand opening 2027, and will be nearly double the size of the historical society’s current space. The total cost for the project is $160 million.
Christian Overland is the historical society director and CEO. He says the building will be designed to highlight Wisconsin's counties.
"The whole history center is a twisted block and it's cantilevered out towards the rest of Wisconsin," says Overland. "The idea is it's connecting to all 72 counties. There's actually balconies where you can walk out on the exhibit areas to look out over Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. We'll also have exhibit panels out there to connect people to Bayfield, Milwaukee, Racine, [and] Kenosha."
The building's fifth floor will offer an event space and include a rooftop terrace. Overland says the new center will have the capacity to host more guests and display additional artifacts from its 290-million item collection.
He shares some of the highlights of the state's North American collection including letters from Thomas Jefferson to George Clark.
"There's one letter that he actually writes about his vision for exploring the west and that's 20 years before he's president," Overland says. "When he becomes president, of course, he actually creates the Lewis and Clark expedition to go out west."
In addition to letters and manuscripts, the new center will display artifacts like Abraham Lincoln's shawl and civil rights records. Overlands says the historical society is designing the center "for the people, with the people" by working with communities around the state and all 11 sovereign nations and tribal nations in Wisconsin.
"People will have great stories about Wisconsin history within the context of the United States, and then we'll have the people's voices from the past and memories from the present that will allow people to learn from the actual people that were in history and then remember it today," says Overland.