The Door County Historical Museum opened May 1 for its 80th season. It was chosen by the Chicago Tribune as the Best Small Museum in the Midwest and continues to attract visitors from around the country and world.
Each of the four main viewing areas highlights a different aspect of Door County history.
The front room (the original 1939 museum building) features a spectacular Door County natural-history wildlife diorama, designed and built by Door County taxidermist Mike Orthober. He will appear at the museum three times this summer to demonstrate the art and craft of taxidermy and answer questions about the diorama. Check out the recently opened exhibit of 12,000-year-old Paleoindian artifacts that were discovered in Sturgeon Bay and donated to the museum by Darrel Cardy.
The Pioneer Fire Station occupies the north side of the museum. It houses three restored fire trucks, the oldest from 1920 (kids can sit on the front seat and ring the bell), and a hand-operated water pump from 1869.
The upper level of the 1984 museum addition shows off the many activities and businesses that make Door County special. Displays feature the cherry industry, tourism, immigrant culture, fish boils and lots more.
Head down to the lower level to take a walk through Sturgeon Bay a hundred years (or so) ago. There’s a drug store, smithy, general store, doctor’s office and phone booth (a what?), among many others.
The museum is “small,” but it packs a big punch; and though it’s filled with many artifacts and pictures, it never feels cluttered and it will take more than a single visit to see it all.
The museum, on the corner of 4th and Michigan in Sturgeon Bay, is open daily, 10 am to 4:30 pm, May 1 through October 31.