On my hunt to find affordable adventures for the family, few phrases get me more excited then “free museum.” While we know that there are many quality museums in Lake County that are worth every penny of admission, sometimes my piggy bank needs a break. I may spend an extra few dollars in gas to drive up there, but the Kenosha Public Museum is completely worth the trip.
Situated on Kenosha’s lakefront and harbor, the Kenosha Public museum could not surrounded by a more picture perfect location. When the weather is nice, before you even enter the museum, you can walk the lakefront, look at the boats, play on the playground across the street and wander the Kenosha Harbor Market on Saturdays in the summer.
Once inside, you are greeted by volunteers who are excited to tell you about the museum and point you in the right direction. We often start with the first turn, taking you back in time to prehistorhic Wisconsin. Walls are lined with models of sea creatures, fossils and a geological timeline. As you continue on the path, you meet dinosaurs, native Americans, and villages depicting early settlements and traditions.
The crown jewel of the path, in my opinion, is the complete recreation of a towering Mammoth skeleton, the Schaefer and Hebior mammoth exhibit. Archaeologist Dan Joyce, the Museum’s director, and archaeologist David Wasion, rediscovered the Schaefer mammoth in the Town of Paris in Kenosha County in 1992. The skeleton comes with an interesting story about its discovery that you will have to read when you visit for yourself. It’s quite impressive.
The kids’ favorite area is the Field Station, or as we call it, the play area. It is an interactive area of learning and fun for kids of all ages with a wide array of activities. It includes art stations such as Lego building, weaving, and a wall of felt masterpieces. There are drawers to explore and touch fossils, animal bones, nests, fur, and other natural elements. Children will also find books, magazines, fossil rubbings, animal puppets, microscopes, and more. My kids could easily stay in this area alone for a few hours.
There is also a second level to explore with rotating special art exhibits, many from local artists. This area also has a stunning view of the lakefront with a big bay window overlooking the harbor and telescopes to assist in viewing the scenic details.
I love the size of this museum because it is small enough that no one gets lost or completely exhausted. The museum is also large and diverse enough to capture everyone’s attention and imagination.
While your family could easily visit Kenosha for just this museum alone, there are many other Kenosha landmarks and features to explore if you have the time. The old time trolley runs just past the museum, a short ride costs $1 for riders age 13 and older, 50 cents for kids ages 5 – 12, and children age four and younger ride for free. There are some fun and kid friendly restaurants nearby like Mike’s Chicken and Donuts (seriously best doughnuts ever) and Choo Choo Charlie’s. The Dinosaur Discovery museum is also nearby, which is also free, but has limited hours. And for older kids, the Civil War Museum is right next door to the Kenosha Public Museum. Th Civil War is very cool, and charges guests $9 per person to visit.
There are so many great places to discover in Kenosha, but the Kenosha Public Museum is a great place to start. I hope to see you there!
Has your family explored the Kenosha Public Museum? What are your favorite things to do there?