27 July 2018

In praise of the Driftless Historium and other county museums

When I travel I particularly enjoy driving secondary roads - the "blue highways," as William Least Heat-Moon designated them.   And if time permits when I'm in a new area, I try to visit local county museums.   These ventures, almost always staffed and maintained by local enthusiasts, offer better insight into local history than what one gets from large historical society or national museums.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a new museum - the Driftless Historium in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.   This is a brand-new, well-designed, spotlessly clean, well-lighted venue that focuses on this history of Dane County and the larger "driftless area" of southwestern Wisconsin.

The exhibits are extensively described, and are supplemented with historical information on an abundance of wall placards.  The layout leads the visitor through a timeline that begins with glacial geology/landforms and moves on from there to native American history, to settlement and statehood, and eventually to modern times.  Special exhibits feature arts and crafts of immigrant and local artisans.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of a product that screams Midwestern understatement: rubbers that were marketed as being "better-than-usual."

I recommend allotting a couple hours to explore this excellent museum - perhaps supplemented by a visit to the Sunn Cafe across the street for lunch.


  1. My husband and I always traveled back roads when time allowed and discovered many gems through the years. A great place to check before traveling is atlasobscura.com. People can post these out-of-way treasures for others to find. Using this gave us many places we might have missed.

  2. Another fun one to add to your list if you are crossing Iowa: http://www.fossilcenter.com/


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