Museums and Attractions

The Milwaukee area is blessed with a variety of cultural attractions, including the Harley-Davidson Museum. Located in the Menomonee Valley just south of downtown, it details the history of the legendary motorcycle and its impact on America. Other notable Milwaukee-area museums and attractions include:

  • The recently expanded Milwaukee Art Museum, includes masterpieces by Rembrandt, Durer, Picasso and Warhol. The museum’s stunning Calatrava-designed addition has added a dramatic architectural signature to the lakefront.
  • A tradition of excellence in exhibits, education, collections and research has been the hallmark of the Milwaukee Public Museum since it was established in 1882. Permanent exhibits include multi-level displays of dinosaurs, North American Indians, a tropical rain forest, 19th-century Milwaukee neighborhoods and an environmentally controlled butterfly pavilion.
  • The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum features hands-on exhibits for children ages 1 through 10.
  • Discovery World is a lakefront science and technology museum designed for young adults and children.
  • The Milwaukee County Zoo is one of the top zoological parks in the country. The 200-acre park is known for its open concept, which simulates the animals’ natural environments by using moats to separate predators from their prey. Its Aquatic & Reptile Center includes sharks and alligators, as well as more than 200 fish that are native to Wisconsin lakes.
  • Those who want to test their luck will want to head to Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Located in downtown Milwaukee, it attracts more than 6 million visitors every year and offers action 24/7 with nearly 100 table games, 3,000 slot machines, a bingo hall, poker room, off-track betting room, 500-seat theater and six unique restaurants.
  • Plant enthusiasts will want to explore the recently renovated Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. Known locally as “The Domes,” the facility consists of three 85-foot domes. One contains a desert environment, another houses tropical plants and the third features changing displays.

Museums - Art

Charles Allis Art Museum

Designed by prominent Milwaukee architect Alexander Eschweiler and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lavish 1911 home of Charles and Sarah Allis contains a world-class art collection that includes impressive 19th century French and American paintings, classic antiquities, Renaissance bronzes, Asian ceramics and stunning decorative arts. Changing exhibitions feature local and regional artists. Open 1-5, Wednesdays-Sundays. 1801 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee Telephone: (414) 278-8295; Website: www.cavtmuseums.org.

The Grohmann Museum

Home to the world’s most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work. “Man at Work” includes more than 1,000 paintings and sculptures from 1580 to today. Open 9-5, Mondays-Fridays; 12-6 Saturdays; and 1-4 Sundays. Group tours. 1000 N. Broadway, Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 277-2300 Website: www.msoe.edu/museum.

Haggerty Museum of Art

Located on the Marquette University campus, the museum includes two floors and a permanent collection that includes European and American contemporary art, Old Master paintings and photography. Free. Open 10-4:30 Mondays-Saturdays; 12-5 Sundays. Telephone: (414) 288-1669; Website: www.marquette.edu/haggerty.

Lynden Sculpture Garden

Offers a unique experience of art in nature through its collection of more than 50 monumental sculptures sited across 40 acres of park, lake and woodland. Open daily, except Thursdays. 2145 W. Brown Deer Road., River Hills; Telephone: (414) 446-8794; Website: www.lyndensculpturegarden.org.

Milwaukee Art Museum

The museum’s holdings include more than 30,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day, with strengths in 19th and 20th century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The museum includes the iconic Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, which was named by Time magazine as “Best Design of 2001.” 700 N. Art Museum Dr., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 224-3200; Website: www.mam.org.

Museum of Wisconsin Art

Celebrates the value, diversity and uniqueness of the visual arts and artists of Wisconsin by collecting, conserving, documenting, exhibiting and promoting aesthetic understanding of the visual arts of Wisconsin. Open Tuesday–Sunday 10–5, Thursdays 10-8; closed New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. 205 Veterans Ave., West Bend; Telephone: (262) 334-9638; Website: www.wisconsinart.org.

Racine Art Museum

Houses America’s largest contemporary crafts collection, including objects made from ceramics, fibers, glass, metals, polymer and wood, as well as painting, sculpture and works on paper. Open 10-5 Tuesdays - Saturdays, 12-5 Sundays. Closed Mondays, federal holidays and Easter. 441 Main St., Racine; Telephone: (262) 638-8300 Website: www.ramart.org.

RAM's Wustum Museum of Fine Arts

Highlights exhibitions of important regional and local artists. Admission and parking are free. Open 10-5 Tuesdays - Saturdays. 2519 Northwestern Ave., Racine; Telephone: (262) 636-9177; Website: www.ramart.org.

UWM Peck School of the Arts Galleries

UWM’s Institute of Visual Arts is Milwaukee’s premier showplace for contemporary art and features four public art galleries. Exhibitions include contemporary architecture, film, painting, performance, photography and sculpture. INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts) is located at 2155 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 229-4308; Website: www.arts.uwm.edu/calendar.

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Overlooking Lake Michigan in a 1923 Italian Renaissance-style villa designed by architect David Adler, the museum features fine and decorative arts dating from the 15th through 18th centuries, wrought-iron masterpieces by Cyril Colnik, a formal garden and changing exhibitions by local, regional and international artists. Open 1-5, Wednesdays - Sundays. 2220 N. Terrace Ave., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 271-3656; Website: www.villaterracemuseum.org.

Museums - General

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum

The Milwaukee area’s only museum designed specifically for children ages 10 and younger, featuring hands-on exhibits, educational programs, events and performances. A fun place where children and grown-ups learn alongside each other. Open 9-5 Mondays-Saturdays and 12-5 Sundays. 929 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 390-KIDS(5437) Website: www.bbcmkids.org.

Bucyrus Mining Museum

More than 100 years of history making mining equipment are presented in a newly renovated building. Among the museum's displays and interactive simulators are the shovels that dug the Panama Canal, dredging equipment, and "The Big Muskie," the world's largest dragline. Open 10-3 Mondays-Fridays, closed weekends and holidays.1970 10th Ave., South Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 768-4001; Website: www.mining.cat.com.

Discovery World

Milwaukee’s premiere science and technology center that offers fun and learning for the whole family. Explore interactive exhibits, the Reiman Aquarium featuring the Caribbean walk-through tunnel, and DIY projects in the Kohl’s Design It! Lab. In the summer months, enjoy a Family Sail on Discovery World’s Tall Ship, the Denis Sullivan – a 137 ft. recreation of a 19th-century Great Lakes cargo schooner.  Open Mondays (April 4-August 31) 9-4; Tuesdays - Fridays, 9-4; Saturdays and Sundays, 10-5.  500 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 765-9966   Website: www.discoveryworld.org.

Harley-Davidson Museum

More than a nostalgia trip for motorcycle enthusiasts, the Harley-Davidson Museum offers a glimpse of American history and culture like you’ve never seen it before through the successes and trials of an iconic American company. May - September 9-6 daily and until 8 p.m. Thursday; October - April 10-6 daily and until 8 p.m. Thursday. 400 Canal St., Milwaukee; Telephone: (877) 436-8738; Website: www.h-dmuseum.com.

Logic Puzzle Museum

More than 60-plus hands-on logic and brain puzzles to work and solve for families, adults, school groups, youth and scout groups, for ages 5-105. Annual events include: Mystery Objects, International Tongue Twister Contest, Brain Twister Day, Tangram Celebration, Sam Loyd “Puzzleman” Birthday. Gift shop open year-round. Call for hours. 533 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington; Telephone: (262) 763-3946; Website: www.logicpuzzlemuseum.org.

Milwaukee Public Museum

Life-size dioramas, hands-on experiences, and traveling special exhibits. Travel back in time more than 65 million years to the land of dinosaurs. Gaze at ancient civilizations and see real mummies. Surround yourself with the sound and feel of a tropical rainforest. Walk the turn-of-the-century “Streets of Old Milwaukee.” Watch a butterfly wriggle out of its chrysalis in a two-story, glass-enclosed butterfly garden. Daily tours and cultural programming offered. Open 9-5 daily. Closed July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. 800 W. Wells St., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 278-2702; Website: www.mpm.edu.

Daniel M. Soref National Geographic Dome Theater and Planetarium

Offers visitors three unique visual experiences in one venue: a thrilling 3D film, a planetarium show, or a magnificent giant screen film on a six-story screen with digital surround. 800 W. Wells St., Milwaukee Telephone: (414) 319-4629; Website: www.mpm.edu.

Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum

Features 35 hands-on toy tops and top games; a 2,000 item exhibit of tops, yo-yos, and gyroscopes from around the world; plus a live presentation by a top expert. Events include Annual Yo-Yo & Skill Toy Convention, Yo-Yo Summer Day Camp, and gyroscope contest. Yo-Yo classes and old-fashioned top-spinning classes are offered for groups and birthday parties. Call for hours. 533 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington; Telephone: (262) 763-3946 Website: www.topmuseum.org.

War Memorial Center

Stunning architectural landmark on Milwaukee’s lakefront stands as a beautiful memorial to those who died in service, served and are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Services. Original World War I and World War II poster collection, eternal flame and reflecting pool, Purple Heart Memorial, 9/11 Memorial and Fox Company Memorial. Open daily; free to the public. 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 273-5533; Website: www.warmemorialcenter.org.

Wisconsin Automotive Museum

Wisconsin’s largest auto museum with more than 100 cars and trucks of all makes and vintages, a 250-ton steam locomotive and the world’s largest collection of Kissel automobiles, which were built in Hartford between 1906 and 1931. Open 10-5 Mondays - Saturdays, 12-5 Sundays, open holidays. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays and holidays between Between Oct. 1 and April 30. 147 N. Rural St., Hartford; Telephone: (262) 673-7999; Website: www.wisconsinautomuseum.com.

Museums - History

Firehouse 3 Museum

An authentic 1881 firehouse maintained as a turn-of-the-century firehouse featuring antique firefighting equipment. Open by appointment. 700 Sixth St., Racine; Telephone: (262) 637-7395; Website: www.racinefirebells.org.

Fortaleza Hall

A testament to SC Johnson’s rich history, Fortaleza Hall honors the spirit of adventure and highlights the landmark expeditions to Brazil by the late fourth-generation leader Sam Johnson and his father, H. F. Johnson, Jr. The hall also houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Library and Reading Room, which includes hundreds of books, documents, drawings, correspondence, videos, blueprints and DVDs about one of America’s most well-known architects. 1525 Howe St., Racine; Telephone: (262) 260-2154. Website: www.scjohnson.com/en/company/architecture/Fortaleza-Hall.aspx.

Golden Rondelle Theater

Originally designed as the Johnson Wax Pavilion for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, the theater now serves as the center for the company’s tour program. Includes a 45-minute guided tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed SC Johnson Administration Building. Also the home of the films “Carnauba: A Son’s Memoir” and “To Be Alive.” Reservations required. 1525 Howe St., Racine; Telephone: (262) 260-2154. Website: www.racinecounty.com/golden.

Milwaukee County Historical Society

The region’s only organization exclusively focused on the comprehensive history, culture people and places of Milwaukee County. Featuring a collection of artifacts and archival materials, the society shares Milwaukee’s stories at five distinctive locations. The Milwaukee Historical Center, located in downtown Milwaukee adjacent to Pere Marquette Park, serves as the society’s main office and includes exhibitions and research library in a restored historic bank. Open 9:30-5, Mondays-Saturdays. Hours at Trimborn Farm, the Curtin House, the Damon House and the Kilbourntown House vary by season. 910 N. Old World Third St., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 273-8288; Website: www.milwaukeehistory.net.

Old Falls Village Museum

The museum consists of a series of eight buildings that are maintained by the Menomonee Falls Historical Society and furnished with authentic artifacts. Open from May through September, except holidays; group tours by arrangement. N96 W15791 County Line Rd., Menomonee Falls; Telephone: (262) 250-3901; Website: www.oldfallsvillage.com.

Old World Wisconsin

Located south of Eagle on Hwy. 67 in southwest Waukesha County, Old World Wisconsin is an interactive outdoor museum of immigrant farm and rural life that features more than 65 historic buildings and an 1870s crossroads village featuring many of the ethnic groups that made Wisconsin home in the 19th century. “Catch Wheel Fever!”, the newest interactive experience, highlights the 1890s cycling boom, allowing guests to hop aboard a reproduction tricycle for a spin around a track, climb aboard a high-wheel bicycle for a one-of-a-kind photo op, or tinker in an 1890s bicycle repair shop. Open May-October plus post-season special events. Telephone: (262) 594-6300; Website: www.oldworldwisconsin.org.

Racine Heritage Museum

From astronaut Laurel Clark and architect Frank Lloyd Wright to Case steam tractors and the Underground Railroad, the Heritage Museum of Racine has something for everyone, including a new Racine County Sports Hall of Fame. Free Admission. Open 9-5 Tuesdays - Fridays, 9-8 Thursdays, 10-3 Saturdays, 12-4 Sundays. 701 Main St., Racine; Telephone: (262) 636-3926; Website: www.racineheritagemuseum.org.

Ten Chimneys

The estate lovingly created by theatre legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne is a world-class museum and national resource for theatre, arts and arts education. Tours are offered May through November, Tuesdays through Sundays. Reservations recommended. S43 W31575 Depot Rd., Genesee Depot; Telephone: (262) 968-4110; Website: www.tenchimneys.org.

Waukesha County Museum

Located in an 1893 courthouse, the museum features three floors of exhibits, tours, special events, camps for kids and a research center that tell the story of Waukesha County from the time of the Ice Age. Tours available for a minimal fee. Open 10-4:30, Tuesdays - Saturdays. Research center open 10-Noon and 12:30-4:30 Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 12:30-4:30 Thursdays. 101 W. Main St., Waukesha; Telephone: (262) 521-2859; Website: www.waukeshacountymuseum.org.

West Allis Historical Society Museum

Housed in an 1887 Richardsonian Romanesque “Cream City” brick building, the museum includes artifacts from an old-time dental clinic, a school room, blacksmith shop, pioneer room, tool room, general store, a cemetery plotted in 1849 and a log-cabin school. Research library contains historical information on West Allis and Town of Greenfield. Open 7-9 Tuesdays, 2-4 Sundays or by appointment. 8405 W. National Ave., West Allis; Telephone: (414) 541-6970; Website: www.westallishistory.org.

Nature/Wildlife

Boerner Botanical Gardens

A collection of formal garden spaces hosting a number of plant collections from ornamental grasses to phenomenal peonies. Formal gardens include the perennial, peony, rock, rose, shrub, annual, daylily, herb and trial gardens. Located in Whitnall Park. 9400 Boerner Dr., Hales Corners; Telephone: (414) 525-5601; Website: www.boernerbotanicalgardens.org.

Milwaukee County Zoo

Most of the zoo’s animals live in natural surroundings with predators and prey separated only by hidden moats. Features a zoo train, sea lion show, tram tour, animal rides, dairy farm, restaurants and gift shops. Seasonal hours. 10001 W. Blue Mound Rd., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 771-3040; Website: www.milwaukeezoo.org.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory

The only horticultural structure of its kind in the world, these three architecturally unique glass domes house a tropical rainforest with a 30-foot waterfall and orchid collection, a desert oasis and a floral “Show Dome” featuring five floral seasonal exhibits. Open 9-5 Monday through Friday and 9-4 Saturday and Sunday; extended winter hours. 524 S. 27th St., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 257-5600; Website: www.countyparks.com

Racine Zoo

Nestled on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, the zoo is home to the world’s most remarkable and endangered wildlife. An easy walk for kids and seniors. Open every day of the year; free parking. Summer hours (Memorial Day - Labor Day): 9-6. Winter hours: 9-4:30. Free for children under 3. 2131 N. Main St., Racine; Telephone: (262) 636-9189; Website: www.racinezoo.org

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Featuring a 30,000-square-foot “green” building, six miles of hiking trails and a 60-foot observation tower, the center is 15 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan. Open 9-5, 7 days a week. Closed most major holidays. 1111 E. Brown Deer Rd., Bayside; Telephone: (414) 352-2880; Website: www.sanc.org

Urban Ecology Center

An environmental education organization with two community centers adjacent to Milwaukee County parks. Open 9-7 Mondays - Thursdays, 9-5 Fridays and Saturdays, and 12-5 Sundays. Riverside Park: 1500 E. Park Pl., Milwaukee; Washington Park: 1859 N. 40th St., Milwaukee; Telephone: (414) 964-8505; Website: www.urbanecologycenter.org

Wehr Nature Center

Five miles of nature trails loop through 200 acres of woodlands, wetlands, prairie, oak savanna and around 20-acre Mallard Lake. Nature programs for all ages and special seasonal events for families. Visitor’s center open daily except New Year’s Day and some days near Thanksgiving and Christmas. 9701 W. College Ave., Franklin; Telephone: (414) 425-8550; www.friendsofwehr.org

 

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