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The History Museum at the Castle, Appleton
(4/5 based on 110+ reviews on the web)
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
  • We enjoyed the Houdini exhibit. It was more interesting if you pick up the sheets they offer on things to look for. The exhibit was interactive and fun. We also enjoyed the exhibit on the history of p...  more »
  • My family is always looking for a great museum to explore and this was a great one. The Houdini exhibit was by far the most interesting and entertaining, 
  • This museum was a good way to kill an hour, but the displays are mostly geared towards a younger crowd (think 8-12). Staff was extremely friendly and the building is beautiful. Check out the photograp...  more »
Google
  • The museum itself is reasonably priced and fun. The Houdini part is interactive and the kids enjoyed it very much. Overall, I feel the price and the experience is worth it. My only complaint is the lady at the front desk who belittled my autistic 8 year old child for not knowing his zip code. Just because a person looks "normal"'doesn't mean they don't have a disability. So the judgement about his upbringing and intelligence was not a welcoming factor. The funny part about it is that I used her lecture about how people could send him letters using his zip code in the mail (welcome to the age of text messages, lady) in the part of the exhibit where you have to use old school home telephones to listen to information about people's professions back in the day. She may have meant well, but it doesn't hurt to get with the times either.
  • We only come here once in awhile since the cost and value of the exhibits do not balance out. But we keep trying to make it worth the money
  • Much more interesting than i could have ever imagined.
  • I expected the History Museum at the Castle to be like many other local museums, having at most 2 rooms staffed by untrained volunteers. Suffice it to say I was shocked and impressed when I entered the museum in Appleton. Housed in an old Masonic Temple, the building provides a great backdrop for a local history museum. The second floor houses a kid-friendly interactive Houdini exhibit that is welcoming and enjoyable. The basement holds an exhibit about technological advancements and their effect on the Fox Valley Area. On the main floor are exhibits about: local sports history (complete with push-and-sniff buttons to complete the experience), Edna Ferber (reknowned author), and postcards showing the Appleton of yester year. Overall, the museum is delightful and a good way to spend a few hours. It is neither stuffy nor overpriced and can be fun for the whole family!
  • This was the biggest waste of $15.00 for 2 adults. We were so excited to see this museum about Harry Houdini. The museum looks so big, but there is only one small floor dedicated to Houdini. There was pretty minimal information and I feel like it is a stretch to have such a place dedicated to man who lived here for such a short time.