Just steps beyond Kenosha’s delicious, multi-cultural HarborMarket, and right on the revitalized lakefront, are the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum, two of the three museums that comprise the Kenosha Public Museums campus.
The Kenosha Public Museum was established in 1933 as a natural sciences and fine arts museum. Its new location on the lakefront museum campus opened in 2001 and still adheres to the museum’s original mission of collecting, preserving, and interpreting “decorative and fine arts, natural science specimens, and cultural artifacts from around the world and throughout time.” In recent years, the main attraction at the Public Museum has become the woolly mammoth that was excavated in Kenosha County in 1994. Ninety per cent of the skeleton was uncovered and it is the largest specimen ever found in North America.
Admission to the Public Museum is free.
Right next door to the Public Museum is the Civil War Museum. Even before we arrived in Kenosha, I knew I wanted to see the Civil War Museum. The Working Dad and I both enjoy history, especially war history, and I figured this would be up our alley. Plus, I don’t recall ever visiting a museum devoted specifically to the Civil War.
The Fiery Trial Exhibit is the largest in the museum and it focuses on the contributions and sacrifices made by soldiers and families of the Upper Middle West during the Civil War.
It is quite an impressive exhibit, with life-sized dioramas and even a “speech” by Frederick Douglas (a video recording of an actor portraying Mr. Douglas). While The Working Dad and I took our time and studied each part of the exhibit, our 3-year-old fell asleep in her stroller. It’s probably a good thing because she would have been a bit bored. There is not much in the way of interaction or excitement for the younger children at this museum. However, the Kenosha Public Museum and Dinosaur Discovery Museum help to fill that void and are just a short walk or streetcar ride away.
Apart from the main exhibit is the Veterans Memorial Gallery which honors United States veterans of all wars, starting with the Revolutionary War up to present-day battles. The gallery is a low-lit, peaceful hall and I was moved by the World War II and Vietnam displays, having loved ones who served in both conflicts.
Before leaving the museum, be sure to head up to the outdoor terrace overlooking the harbor. It is especially lovely on a sunny day, and a great spot to take in the view and clear your mind after thinking and talking about the heavy topic of war.
Admission to the Civil War Museum is free; however, there is a small fee for the Fiery Trial Exhibit.
The Dinosaur Discovery Museum, mentioned above, is located at 5608 Tenth Avenue, a few blocks from the Public and Civil War Museums. Because we had a short time in Kenosha and there is so much to see and do, we did not make it to the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. It will be our first stop on our next trip to Kenosha, though!
Admission to The Dinosaur Discovery Museum is free.
My family’s trip to Kenosha, including accommodations, meals, and admission to the Fiery Trial Exhibit, was provided by the Kenosha Area CVB and its partners. All words and opinions, however, are my own.