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The History Museum at the Castle, Appleton

4.0
#5 of 20 in Things to do in Appleton
Specialty Museum Museum
The History Museum at the Castle is a local history museum located in downtown Appleton, Wisconsin across College Avenue from Lawrence University. Owned and operated by the Outagamie County Historical Society (OCHS), the museum has previously operated under the names The Outagamie Museum and The Houdini Historic Center.The building in which the museum is housed was formerly a Masonic temple, built in 1923, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Masonic Temple. Appleton's Waverly Masonic Lodge sold the building to the OCHS in 1985.The museum's collections focus on the history of the Fox River Valley, containing artifacts from the 1840s onward. The History Museum at the Castle also has a large collection of original Harry Houdini performance paraphernalia and personal documents, including a selection of his picks, locks, keys, and handcuffs. The museum also holds a collection of artifacts from the life of Senator Joe McCarthy, who was from the Appleton area. The museum owns 35,000 photographs dating back as far as 1857, including ones of Houdini, McCarthy, Edna Ferber, and Appleton native John Bradley, one of the six men who took part in raising the flag on Iwo Jima.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
119 reviews
Google
4.1
TripAdvisor
  • It's a good museum for kids, not so much for two adults. The Houdini exhibit primarily concentrates on letting kids explore how Houdini performed and there are very few artifacts or information about ...  more »
  • Very interesting exhibits. I use a wheelchair and found it very accessible with parking near the back entry. I phoned ahead so they could buzz me thru the back entry when I arrived. Small gift shop wi...  more »
  • this museum features events that encompass the local history. Houdini, McCarthy and many other individuals as well as the local Asylum, toys, and art. The exhibit on toys was real wonderful; they had ...  more »
Google
  • The exhibit for the Outagamie County Mental Health Center and the homeless exhibit, regardless of what others say, are not for kids. If you can get past the inappropriate content and scary (to kids) black and white images from the asylum, you'll find a few facts scattered in with speculation and opinion. Both exhibits were thin on education and give no call to action to do anything about the serious homeless and mental health issues facing our idyllic small city. While the items and displays are done in a quality manner, a more worthwhile exhibit would be celebrating the contributions of artists, creators, city pioneers and leaders of industry. One consolation was the toy exhibit, albeit small.
  • Always great family fun visiting the Houdini exhibit and the toys of course but the changing exhibits never fail to thrill me and my kids every year!
  • An excellent learning of history for me! Houdini exhibit is very very good. I learned not only Houdini the magician but Houdini the life of. Several interactive displays. I learned how to break out of jail Houdini style and then even perform it in a life size jail cell. The Asylum exhibit is top notch. So many artifacts from that time period are displayed. There are replications of rooms, descriptions of treatments, stories of patients. Top that off with an app to use throughout the tour! This tour is a must when you are in the area. This tour is a great get away day.
  • Great! The people were very friendly and helpful. Three floors of exhibits. The Houdini exhibit is very interactive. Allow at least an hour, maybe more.
  • Great display, but staff doesn't know password to connect to Wi-Fi to fully enjoy experience...

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