Heritage Museum Exhibits
The Heritage Museum hosts two permanent exhibitions, as well as one rotating exhibition in our main-floor galleries. Exhibits on local people, events, industries, and military service are hosted in our lower galleries. Our museum is housed in a 1904 Carnegie Library. This is Waupun's best-kept secret, which remains practically untouched by time.
Waupun is home to the second-oldest library association in Wisconsin. The Hillyer Library was a collection of books in a law office in downtown Waupun. In 1903, a letter was sent to Andrew Carnegie, who was funding public libraries across the country. Waupun received $10,000 and the community was able to provide another large sum to the project. Construction began in 1904, and the Waupun Free Public Library opened in 1905.
The structure served the community as a library until 1968, and eventually opened as the Waupun Heritage Museum in 1971. The Waupun Public Library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
If The Walls Could Talk
A History of Wisconsin Corrections at Waupun
This semi-permanent exhibition on the main floor of the Heritage Museum explores the origins of corrections and incarceration in America and Wisconsin. Since 1851, Waupun has been the location of the Wisconsin State Prison. Now officially called the Waupun Correctional Institution, locals have always called it "The Walls." This exhibition chronicles notable people, events, and changes within The Walls over 170 years and the subsequent impact on our community and state.
A Bronze Age
The Life & Legacy of C.A. Shaler
This semi-permanent exhibition on the main floor of the Heritage Museum explores the business and artistic ventures of Clarence Addison Shaler. From his time as an inventive farm boy west of Waupun to his creative skillset as a sculptor in Pasadena, California, Clarence Shaler was America's hidden renaissance man. Visit the Heritage Museum to journey through a lifetime of inventions, artwork, and unique contributions to the world.
Coming in 2024: "Made in Waupun"
The Products and Industries that Made Waupun
Our 2024 temporary exhibition at the Heritage Museum will highlight numerous products and that are unique to Waupun. From the industrial to the musical, Waupun is home to some fantastic objects that supported livelihoods and helped make Waupun a vibrant community. This exhibit will open in March.