Wisconsin Historical Society moves forward with big plans on the square

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Historical Society is moving forward with plans to build a new museum on capitol square with a price tag of 100 million dollars.

The 100,000 square-foot facility, funded by the state and private donations, will mean a complete tear down of the existing building and two neighboring buildings on N Carroll, leaving space to build the new facility from the ground up.

CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society Chris Overland said for years the museum, which is housed in an old hardware store, has needed more space and now they don’t have to move to get it.

“This is a place where people can congregate, it’s our state capitol it’s also a place where people come everyday, so why not serve the people where the people are,” he said.

The new building will more than double the museum’s current exhibition space allowing staff to showcase more of the historical societies collection.

“There’s a ton of things in storage,” said Exhibition Designer, Douglas Griffin. “Large things but also smaller things that are a little more delicate, Abraham Lincoln’s shawl, a glass that Teddy Roosevelt drank out of when he was giving a speech in Milwaukee.”

A collection that extends beyond Wisconsin and leaves Overland hoping the new facility will have a nationwide impact.

“In the end that’s all we want to do is inspire people to build a better future by knowing how they got here today and using those stories,” he said.

The WHS is currently searching for exhibit and architectural design firms to move the plan forward.

The new museum is set to open in 2026.