Discovery history in Downtown Kenosha

Discovery history in Downtown Kenosha

Go Back in Time at the Museums in Downtown Kenosha

Take a stroll through time and discover the rich history at our fingertips in Downtown Kenosha! Kenosha is a city filled with history and culture, and Kenosha has a unique industrial past that has shaped its modern-day charm. But wait! There’s more. Beyond our artifacts and exhibits specific to Kenosha history, we also have museums showcasing a variety of exhibits highlighting different eras ranging back millions of years. With new events, workshops, and exhibitions being implemented in the museums frequently- there is always something new to see and do. Now buckle up as we run down our list of museums that will send you on an adventure back in time!

The Kenosha Public Museum – A Must for all ages!

Head over to the Lake Michigan shoreline for a trip to the Kenosha Public Museum! The exhibits showcase a wide variety of artifacts, including mammoth bones that belong to 2 of the oldest mammoths in the world. The Kenosha Public Museum hosts temporary exhibits, events, and permanent exhibitions. This means there are always new ways for people of all ages to appreciate the intersecting beauty of the arts and sciences through this Kenosha must!

Photo by Donny Stancato

The Kenosha History Center- Preserving our Past

The Kenosha History Center was started by the Kenosha County Historical Society, and is home to the Yesteryear Gallery, the Miniature Statue of Liberty from Civic Center Park, the Rambler Legacy Gallery, the iconic Southport Light Station Museum on site, and so much more! Make sure you add the Southport Light Station Museum to your downtown bucket list…is open seasonally for guests to climb the 72-stair spiral! If you’re interested in vintage automobiles, Kenosha’s past industrial era, and being taken back in time through immersive walkthrough exhibits, the Kenosha History Center is the spot for you.

Photo by Donny Stancato
Photo by Donny Stancato

3. The Southport Light Station Museum- A Rare Perspective 

Located on Simmons Island right beside the Kenosha History Center is the Southport Light Station Museum. Guests can walk through the 1867 Light station and the Keepers’ house from May to October. Artifacts, maps, and endless information about Kenosha’s harbor history! Everything from commercial fishing, nautical maps, historical harbor maps, information on the only female light keeper Lorinda Merrill, and much more. If you’re feeling extra ambitious- guests 8 and up are invited to climb the 72-step spiral to the lantern room at the top of the lighthouse. The view is unbeatable, and if the clouds are in your favor, you can even see the Chicago Skyline from the top! Don’t forget to head over to the Kenosha History Center next door once you’re done to grab a souvenir from the gift shop. Adult and school tours are welcome.

4. The Civil War Museum- One of a Kind

Photo by Donny Stancato

The Civil War Museum is one of a kind- bringing personal accounts, stories, and displays together to share the perspective of the Upper Middle West states. On the first floor, the free Veterans Memorial Gallery has the theme “Solidarity of Soldiers.” The museum is also home to the Fiery Trial Exhibit, which offers guests a chance to watch “Seeing the Elephant.” The phrase “seeing the elephant” was used by Civil War soldiers to express that they had witnessed the battle. Through the immersive movie experience the museum offers, guests are able to glimpse into what it is like to “see the elephant.” The state-of-the-art technology being used offers a 360-degree view to immerse guests in a visual experience only offered at very few locations in the country. The Civil War Museum honors all US Veterans and Soldiers through its gallery and displays of artifacts and personal items. Keep your eyes open for workshops, events, seminars, and more that are frequently hosted by the Civil War Museum! museums.

The Dinosaur Discovery Museum- Research in Action

Photo by Donny Stancato

See the country’s largest collection of carnivorous dinosaur bones at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum in Downtown Kenosha! The Dinosaur Discovery Museum is filled with old discoveries and is a presenter of active ongoing research being done today in collaboration with Carthage’s Institute of Paleontology. By utilizing Carthage’s onsite lab, there is current fieldwork and a collection of dinosaur specimens specific to that research. To take it a step further, the museum is the only of its kind offering a deeper focus on the ties between carnivorous dinosaurs, and the birds we see around us every day!

(This article first appeared in Vol 16. #2 2023 Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine)
Written by Jenna Zeihen of Visit Kenosha
Photos by Donny Stancato & Visit Kenosha

Follow the Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine on Facebook & Instagram
For everything Kenosha see