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The weirdest museums in + around Madison, WI


Madison skyline | Photo by @kenton_a_fowler

Today, let’s take a gander at some of the area’s weirdest + most wonderful museums, ready to arm you with some off-the-wall knowledge sure to impress your friends and family. While a few of these spots are closed due to seasonality and/or COVID, be sure to keep them on your radar.

National Mustard Museum | 📍 7477 Hubbard Ave., Middleton | 💰 Free | 🚘 ~15 min from 608

Over 6,000 mustards from all 50 states + more than 70 countries — if not in a museum, where else would you store all of these treasures? From collectible mustard pots to antique pins and advertisements, the National Mustard Museum is a testament to “the king of condiments.”

Pro tip: speak with the “confidential condiment counselors” in store for tips on best practices when buying + using mustard

Circus World Museum | 📍 550 Water St., Baraboo | 💰 $4.99+ | 🚘 ~1 hr from 608

Did you know the renowned Ringling Brothers Circus began in Baraboo, WI? Circus World celebrates both the historical + entertainment value of the Wisconsin circus legacy. Clown around for hours while you explore a collection of 260+ authentic circus wagons, see live shows, and experience the magic of a day at the circus.

Pro tip: children under 5 get free admission

Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden and Museum | 📍 52727 Prairie Moon Rd., Fountain City | 💰 Free | 🚘 ~3 hr from 608

An old dance pavilion transformed into a bizarre sculpture park intended “to kill old-age boredom.” Farmer Rusch spent years collecting sculptures, unusual machines + other odd mementos while curating his creative space. Today all that remains is a sculpture park so vividly bright and unique you just may think you’re in a Disney scene.

Midwest Microcar Museum | 📍 103 Crescent St., Mazomanie | 💰 Free | 🚘 ~35 min from 608

The Midwest Microcar Museum is dedicated to commemorating unique vehicles. From microcars to mopeds and memorabilia, the museum features a rotating collection of transportation history. New to the museum: a standalone exhibit for vintage cycles, located just down the street.

National Bobblehead Hall of Fame | 📍 170 S. 1st St., Milwaukee | 💰 $5+ | 🚘 ~1 hr 20 min. from 608

A one-of-a-kind museum housing the world’s largest bobblehead collection from all genres + periods. A premier source of information pertaining to the toys, the museum also features dozens of exhibits related to history, production, and cultural value of the collectibles. Be sure to swing by the shop on your way out, featuring bobbleheads of your favorite local sports heroes, politicians, musicians, and more.

Pro tip: you can still shop the 500+ collectibles in the museum shop without a admission ticket

Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum | 📍 200 W. Main St., Sparta | 💰 $3+ | 🚘 ~2 hr from 608

Honoring WI-born astronaut Deke Slayton, the museum commemorates “the progression of transportation” via bicycles, aviation + space exploration. Explore the evolution of the bicycle in the birthplace of the very first rails-to-trails program — converting railroad tracks into bike trails. Or, check out the only piece of moon rock on display in the entire state of WI.

The History Museum at the Castle | 📍 330 E. College Ave., Appleton | 💰 $7.50+ | 🚘 ~2 hr from 608

Located in the epic castle situated in the downtown Appleton area, the museum serves as a collection of regional relics celebrating the history of Outagamie County. The museum is best known for its Houdini Exhibit as the esteemed magician lived in Appleton as a child. Experience the illusion of Houdini through a virtual, interactive magic exhibit.

Pro tip: children under 4 get free admission

A World of Accordions Museum | 📍 1401 Belknap St., Superior | 💰 $10+ | 🚘 ~5 hr from 608

The museum is dedicated to educating and preserving the value of accordion-family instruments + their impact on modern music and culture. Explore the history and evolution of the instruments, discuss curator performances, and get lost in the music and files roomhousing over one million pieces.

Pro tip: for a fee, you can have staff investigate your own personal research questions

Wisconsin is chock full of rich + quirky history — and it’s got the museum lineup to prove it. Let us know if we missed your favorite off-the-beaten-path museum or gallery in America’s Dairyland.