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State Historical Society holds listening session about new state history museum

WAUSAU (WAOW)– The Wisconsin Historical Society is holding listening sessions across the state to gather input from residents on what they would like to see in the new state history museum.

They were in Wausau Wednesday night for one of those sessions, and brought along items from historical society collections that are rarely seen. Items included a shawl worn by President Abraham Lincoln on his way to Washington D.C. for his inauguration, a sweater worn in the Auschwitz concentration camp by a Holocaust survivor, video footage of Vilas county resorts from the 1930s and ’40s, and 1849 sketches of a gold rush trek on the Overland Trail.

The State of Wisconsin has committed $70 million if the society raises $50 million in private donations. The proposal for funding passed the Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday.

The new museum would be able to hold more collections, welcome more visitors annually, and allow for more than 50,000 students to visit annually. It would also give classrooms the capability to digitally connect with the museum.

“What we want to tell is the state story, so this is a museum for the people that’s being designed by the people,” Christian Overland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Construction of the new state historical museum could begin in late 2021 and finish in late 2024.

Ben Zitouni

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