The Campaign for a New Wisconsin History Center | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Campaign for a New Wisconsin History Center


You have a place in the story of Wisconsin. The Campaign for a New Wisconsin History Center.

Artifacts are on the move! Learn more about this pivotal moment.

The Time Has Come For A New History Center


The next chapter of our state’s history is being written, and the Wisconsin Historical Society has a rare opportunity to deliver an unforgettable, modern history center to celebrate and honor Wisconsin.

Imagine a place where you see yourself in the story of Wisconsin—no matter where you live. Your senses come alive as you’re surrounded by centuries-old artifacts and modern-day technology.

Far more than a modern building, a new Wisconsin history center will collect and share the stories of all our people and connect generations through engaging and relevant experiences. The walls will extend to the borders of the state so that every experience reflects the vast cultural diversity Wisconsin has to offer.

Thank you for your interest in the Campaign for a New Wisconsin History Center. Your support will help deliver a 21st-century history center that will share Wisconsin and North American history like nothing that exists today.

Project Details


Since 1846,the Wisconsin Historical Society has been Wisconsin’s place for history and one of the world’s most respected historical institutions. Limitations of our current museum—located in a former hardware store on Wisconsin’s Capitol Square—prevent us from properly sharing and displaying our state’s stories and world-renowned collections. The idea of a new history museum has existed for nearly two decades with bipartisan support and planning by Govs. Tommy Thompson, Jim Doyle, Scott Walker and Tony Evers. Now is the time to seize this long-awaited opportunity to transform how history is shared in Wisconsin and beyond!

There is incredible momentum underway on this project, with the design phase being led by industry-leading exhibit designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates, international engineering and planning firm SmithGroup, and the award-winning Continuum Architects + Planners. The construction of the new facility is expected to be completed in late 2026. Two properties adjacent to the current museum have been acquired, providing an expanded footprint for a 100,000-square-foot new facility that will more than double the exhibition space of the existing museum, welcome 200,000 guests annually and double the number of visiting students to 60,000.

This early conceptual sketch illustrates the scale of the new history center and potential opportunities it presents for creating public and civic spaces at the top of State Street on Capitol Square. It is important to note that this is not a proposed architectural design. The building design process is underway, with exterior design concepts to come later in 2023.

Construction of the new history center is estimated to cost $100 million. The State of Wisconsin has committed $70 million and the Society has already raised more than $36 million in private donations. The full $120 million campaign also includes essential funds for transition, exhibit design and construction, and the creation of an endowment to support exhibits and educational programs.

# # # # # # # #

Preliminary Timeline


Phase 1

Storyline & Exhibit Concept

“Share Your Voice” Statewide Engagement Series


Phase 2

Architectural & Exhibit Design

Statewide Community Engagement Series

Phase 3


Phase 4

New History Center Opening

Share Your Voice Results


“In the midst of all the hate around the world, it’s wonderful that we can come together to do something very positive, to contribute to this exciting new museum that will be here for generations to come. I think Asian Americans participating in these multicultural conversations is very important.”

—Chia Vang

Listening session in the Milwaukee suburb of Greenfield

From October 2018 through July 2019, more than 5,000 people participated in Wisconsin Historical Society listening sessions and presentations, offering ideas and opinions to help shape a state-of-the-art history museum that will connect and tell the story of all Wisconsinites.

This ambitious statewide engagement effort to support the planning of a new history museum began in Superior and crisscrossed the state for nearly a year, stopping at dozens of communities and schools. With visits to American Indian nations of Wisconsin and multicultural sessions with African American, Asian American and Latinx audiences—including a first ever bilingual session in Wautoma—it was likely the most diverse outreach effort in the Society's 175-year history.

Learn More about the Outreach Effort!

Unforgettable Doesn't Just Happen


Like us, you believe that history matters. That people appreciate history through the telling of good stories, and that our past inspires us. You know that history brings context and meaning to our lives, informs our decisions, and is critical to our future.

A new history center is our biggest undertaking ever. To make it a reality, we need the support of bold, visionary, engaged people who believe in our state. We’re counting on the support of people who understand the value of investing in transformational projects, like those who built the Society’s still-grand headquarters in 1900. In other words, we need the support of people just like you!

Donor Stories

Learn about those supporting the project

Joann & Michael Youngman standing outside in a formal portrait.

JoAnn & Michael Youngman

Pat & Al Wilkening standing close together, hugging sideways, outside smiling at the camera.

Pat & Al Wilkening

Sherry & John Stilin standing behind a black fence in front of a historic building. The streets are cobbled, the building is white stucko and wood beams. John has his arm around Sherry lovingly, she leans into him and they both smile happily at the camera. She's wearing a tan shirt wiht a denim jacket, her hair is white and cut short around her ears with swooping bangs, and red glasses. He is graying with a white goatee and a pale grey button up outdoors shirt and dark grey pant

John & Sherry Stilin

Kim Sponem in a formal portrait at Summit Credit Union. Blonde Hair curled about shoulders, and an emerald green suit.

Summit Credit Union

Jeff Keebler in a formal portrait, looking like he's in a bit of pain in his grey suit.

Madison Gas & Electric

Megan Jerabek smiles largely in this formal portrait. She wears her hair past her shoulders and wavy, as well as a blue blouse.

von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

Stay Engaged.
Stay Informed.



Be The First to receive project updates and learn about statewide engagement opportunities! Become a Wisconsin Historical Society member here or call 888.748.7479.


Ask A Question or sign up for electronic updates at New Museum email.


Make A Gift! Contact Julie Lussier, Wisconsin Historical Foundation Executive Director, at 608.261.9587 or Julie Lussier's email.

The Campaign for a new
History Center