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Mustard, accordions, and Houdini: A look at Wisconsin’s quirkiest museums

Susan Evenson
Stock Adobe

Wisconsin is known for a lot of things: its dairy, its beer, and its oddities. The state is home to many unique places, including a wide variety of weird museums, as writer Tea Krulos details in his article featured in this month’s Milwaukee Magazine.

Here are some of the museums from that list:

The National Mustard Museum

"The Mustard Museum is just outside of Madison, and it has over 6,000 mustard bottles and related items," says Krulos. "One of the best parts of it is they have a gift shop that is also a tasting. So, you can sample over 100 different types of mustards. So, if you love mustards, this is a must stop on your list."

The History Museum at the Castle

This museum has a exhibit on iconic magician and former Wisconsin resident, Harry Houdini, who spent parts of his childhood in Appleton and Milwaukee. Krulos says, "[It's] called AKA Houdini, in which you journey through his life. And they have some really fun, interactive displays where you can try out some of his escape tricks and magic trick. It's a really nice recognition of this famous resident of Appleton."

World Of Accordions Museum

"They have this huge collection of over 2,500 accordions from all over the world because they are used in different music. [It] is really great because it's an old church and they also have a venue where they of course have accordion centric performances," says Krulos. "They have a repair shop and a really big archive of sheet music and other stuff related to accordions. So, it's really an important cultural part of the state."

International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center

Krulos says, "They have pictures of famous clowns, as well as their rubber noses and giant shoes and costumes and props that they used."

The Hall of Fame has moved around a lot and was once neighbors with WUWM in the Plankinton building in downtown Milwaukee. It is now fittingly located in Baraboo, WI, which has a rich history of being a world capital for different circuses as well as the hometown of the Ringling Brothers.

Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass

"It is very beautiful. There's so much glass in it. And then, when the light comes through the right way, it's really quite dazzling. And it's home to the largest collection of glass paperweights in the world, which is over 6,000 pieces. They're very beautiful individual pieces of glass work," says Krulos.

Some other notable museums that didn't make Krulos's list in the article include The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, Redner's Rescued Cat Figurine Mewseum and the Geneva Lake Museum.

Krulos's Milwaukee Magazine article can be found here.


Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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