Museum on Kenosha’s harbor features the history of Kenosha County, including its early settlement and industrial history, and a gift shop. Visit the Yesteryear Gallery – from settlement to 1900 see how Kenosha County developed and grew. See the Upson Oxcart, a Barn Raising & Fanning Mill, Blacksmith Shop, Railroad Depot, General Store, Barbershop, One Room School, and more. Learn about Christopher Latham Sholes and the Bain Wagon Company. The Lyman Gallery in the lobby features various shop fronts, including a Photography Studio, a Millenary, and more.
In the Rambler Legacy Gallery – see how Kenosha’s auto-making legacy shaped history through the 20th Century. Displays on the perimeter of the gallery include replicas of Thomas B Jeffery building, 1896 Fire Station No 4, and a Dentist office from the Willowbrook Sanitarium. The gallery also features a re-creation of the Sterling Bicycle Factory. Also see the permanent exhibit: Kenosha’s "Lost Industries" from 1850s thru 1970s. Click on the “events” tab for the current exhibit information and upcoming events.
Come see the Miniature Statue of Liberty from Civic Center Park! This statue was erected in 1950 with a ceremony in Civic Center Park. It was a gift to the city by local Boy Scout troops to mark Kenosha’s 100th anniversary as an incorporated city. Its new home is inside the Kenosha History Center.
See the special, limited-time-only exhibit “Brass Treasures”, a collection of brass items from Kenosha County Historical Society member and volunteer Patricia Luttrell. Included are everyday items like candlesticks and more esoteric items like urns and specialized bells. Brass was important to Kenosha manufacturing, and this exhibit explores the domestic side of brass. The exhibit will run through the end of March 2017.
Now through April 2017, see the exhibit titled the “Pike River Farm: A Folk Art Model.” This collection was donated to the Boys and Girls Library in 1937 by the descendants of George Keuler. It was a part of the Library’s display until it closed in 1980 and was transferred to the Kenosha County Historical Society. The Boys and Girls Library was in the building that is known today as the Bradford Community Church. The exhibit features a hand carved folk art model farm by George Keuler of Jefferson, Wisconsin. His model farm travelled to fairs from Green Bay to Chicago and attracted many spectators because it was originally motorized. The windmill, machines, and people were made to be moved by electric motors. “Pike River Farm: A Folk Art Model” was installed by student intern Hailey Morgan, a sophomore history major at Carthage College, and will be on display at the Kenosha History Center through the last week of April.
February 2017 Update: New in the Kenosha History Center Gift Shop: Militaria From The Pacific War: Discovering Their Stories. By J. Forrest Pollard, Iron Lightning Press, 2016. The retail price is $35.00, with a 10% discount for Society members. The book is filled with first-hand accounts, including an interview with the author’s father, former Kenosha artist George Pollard. It also features several of Pollard’s sketches made after the Battle of Tarawa and aboard ship in the South Pacific. George Pollard was a prolific portrait painter with over 5000 works to his credit, including Presidents, Governors, and Popes. He and his wife Nan collaborated on celebrity doll books for the Lowe Company in Kenosha, and Nan would go on to illustrate over 2000 Lowe books. Their name is borne by the Pollard Gallery at the Rhode Center for the Arts. This book chronicles J. Forrest Pollard’s journeys into the history of individual war relics of the Pacific War. Ten of the most significant have been chosen for inclusion, including a chapter on relics of his father’s service in the Marine Corps. They begin with the Soviet-Japanese clash at Nomanhan, in Manchuria, in 1939, and follow through the Japanese surrender in 1945.
The Kenosha County Historical Society was founded in 1878 to preserve, research and present the cultural heritage of Kenosha County and Southeastern Wisconsin. The Society moved to its present location in 2001; naming its museum the Kenosha History Center. The building was built in 1917.
The museum is always looking for volunteers – to work as docents (interpretive guides), museum greeters, catalogers, archival processors, clerical assistants, and to work on special projects and events.
Visit the archives by appointment. Adult and school group tours welcomed. Facility rentals available. Free parking.
The Kenosha History Center and the Southport Light Station Museum (open seasonally and by appointment), located on the same grounds, are operated by the Kenosha County Historical Society.
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The Kenosha County Historical Society, which operates the Kenosha History Center and Southport Light Station Museum, is Travel Green Wisconsin Certified. Read about here.
The exhibit features Kenosha-specific automobiles (Jeffery, Nash, AMC) from the 1900’s until the 1970’s. Specifically:
The lighthouse and maritime museum, inside the keeper's house, documents Kenosha's lighthouse keepers, shipping and fishing history. Also climb the 1866 Southport Lighthouse. The tower stands 55 feet above the lighthouse grounds. See Kenosha, Lake Michigan and into Illinois and Racine County.
Kenosha History Center Presents: A Kenosha Homecoming – Great Cars on a Great Lake. A variety of events will be offered at various locations throughout Kenosha and Racine, with the big car show on Saturday (at Kennedy Park, 4051 Fifth Ave. in Kenosha). The car show is free for spectators.
Join the Kenosha History Center for an evening of chili, music, and more. Restaurants/fire stations compete for the coveted first place Kenosha History Center Chili Cook Off Traveling trophy that they can display in their restaurant/fire station for one year.