Society problems

Wisconsin Historical Society Announces Design Team for New Wisconsin History Center | News

The Department of Administration and the Wisconsin Historical Society selected Continuum Architects + Planners in association with SmithGroup as the design and engineering team for the new Wisconsin History Center, which will replace the current Wisconsin Historical Museum on Capitol Square in Madison.

MADISON, Wis., March 28, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — The Department of Administration and the Wisconsin Historical Society have selected Continuum Architects + Planners in association with SmithGroup as the design and engineering team for the new Wisconsin History Center, which will replace the current Wisconsin Historical Museum on Capitol Square in Madison. SmithGroup is one of the nation’s leading integrated design firms and brings decades of award-winning experience in the design of cultural institutions.

“We are thrilled to partner with Continuum Architects + Planners and SmithGroup to develop a history center that will be recognized as a one-of-a-kind national attraction,” said Christian land, Ruth and Hartley Barker Director and CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “This is a pivotal moment for bringing our vision to life and for the future of the story. The center will serve as a center of inspiration and exploration where people and communities will connect with each other. , through time, through the prism of the two Wisconsin history and our shared American experiences.”

SmithGroup’s cultural practice includes an extensive portfolio of award-winning projects around the world. Some of its most recognized cultural projects include the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in washington d.c.and the net-zero energy Edsel and Eleanor Ford House Visitor Center at Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. SmithGroup is designing the new Thomas Gilcrease Museum of American History and Art in Tulsa, Oklahomaand the transformation of the North Carolina Museum of History into Raleigh, North Carolina. The firm’s work is also recognized in Wisconsinwhere he designed a cultural master plan for the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in Green BayAlumni Park on the campus of the The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin State Archives Preservation Facility in Madison.

“Together with the Department of Administration and the Wisconsin Historical Society, we look forward to developing a vision for the new Wisconsin center of history on this incredible site,” said Chris Wood, vice president of SmithGroup and leader of the museum’s design team. “We are proud to celebrate the stories of Wisconsin and I look forward to designing a welcoming new home for this important museum.”

MilwaukeeNew York-based Continuum Architects + Planners has won numerous awards for its work, including for the UW-Madison Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, and UW-Milwaukee Welcome Center & Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship .

“We are truly honored to have the opportunity to help guide the design and construction of the new Wisconsin history center in the heart of Madison,” noted Robert Barr, president of Continuum Architects + Planners and senior project manager for the design team. “The relentless efforts of the Wisconsin Historical Society to make this facility a reality have been inspiring. We look forward to seeing the grand opening.”

The Wisconsin Historical Society previously announced Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA), an award-winning firm dedicated to the design of museums and narrative environments, as exhibit designer for the new history center. RAA and SmithGroup worked collaboratively on the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Financing for the building was successfully obtained thanks to $70 million in state support and $30 million as private gifts. Design will begin in the summer of 2022, and construction is expected to begin in early 2024, after planning permission is granted by the State Building Commission. Going forward, fundraising efforts will focus on securing support for the programming, collections, and endowment needed to sustain the new history center.

“We are delighted with the fundraising success that has been achieved for the building,” said Julie Lussier, Executive Director, Wisconsin Historical Foundation. “Thanks to the generosity and trust of early campaign donors, we can now move into a new phase of fundraising that will help deliver an incredible museum experience and provide a long-term sustainable source of funding. We are thrilled to build on the tremendous support we’ve received from across the state and we’re ready to take this project to the finish line.”

The new 100,000 square foot historic center located in the heart of Madison will more than double the exhibition area of ​​the current museum. As a flagship of the Wisconsin Historical Society, the center will transcend the traditional museum experience. It will provide a venue and context for community voice and engagement that connects individuals and communities not only to the story of Wisconsinbut to that of the nation and the world.

The center will present and provide historical context to a large and ever-growing collection of national significance. This includes by Thomas Edison dynamo generator that powered the first public incandescent light bulb demonstration at its Menlo Park laboratory, the rock thrown through Daisy Bates window by the KKK while hosting the Little Rock Nine, and the 1969 Oscar Mayer Wienermobile designed by Wisconsin native Brooks Stevens. It is expected to welcome 200,000 guests a year and double the number of visiting students to 60,000. State-of-the-art digital technology will enable the center to virtually connect with people around the world.

For more information on the new history museum project, visit

About the Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, is one of the largest, most active, and most diverse state historical societies in the nation. As a state agency and private organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Society serves millions of people each year through a wide range of sites, programs, and services. The Wisconsin Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, receives grants and private contributions to benefit the Wisconsin Historical Society and administers the membership program. For more information, visit

SmithGroup ( is one of the world’s largest integrated design companies. Working through a network of 15 offices in the United States and China, a team of 1,200 experts is committed to excellence in strategy, design and delivery. The company’s scale of thinking and organization produces partnerships with forward-looking customers that maximize opportunities, minimize risks and solve their most complex problems. SmithGroup creates exceptional design solutions for cultural and higher education institutions, science and technology organizations, healthcare, urban environments, diverse workplaces, mixed-use and waterfront developments, and parks and open spaces.

Media Contact

Kendall PoltzerWisconsin Historical Society, 6082611379,

SOURCE Historical Society of Wisconsin