History is static… dusty, maybe even downright musty, right? At the Chippewa Valley Museum, that’s simply not the case.
The museum continues to do an amazing job of preserving and protecting our past, but when you visit, you realize that so much more is happening here than just preserving artifacts under glass.
“The last five years we have really focused on connecting the community to what is going on at the museum,” says Olaf Lind, Communications Specialist for the museum. “We want the museum to be a place that locals consider as an option when they’re looking for something to do. We want to provide stability for the museum to collect and preserve history while reaching out to share, inspire and connect with our community.”
In an effort to reach more of the community, the museum has been building exhibits beyond what one might traditionally think of for a history museum. A good example might be their ‘Racing in the Chippewa Valley’ exhibit. It highlighted the history of racing and racers in the Chippewa Valley – from dirt track, to ice racing, and beyond.
“That brought a whole new group of people into the museum,” says Olaf. “We’re want to represent all walks of life in our community.”
Throughout the year, you’ll find an active calendar and exhibits that change between 3-5 times annually. This December is host to a holiday gingerbread competition, Cookies, Carols, and Crafts events, and it’s the last month to view the Then and Now exhibit, celebrating 150 years of history since the city of Eau Claire’s founding.
Escape Room enthusiasts can also book the Schlegelmilch Holiday Escape Room in December for some fun that goes to support the Museum. If you can’t make it in person, you can view the online Hmong In Eau Claire exhibit, sharing stories, histories, and experiences of our Hmong community members.
Throughout the year, the museum facilitates live music events, book readings, art exhibits, neighborhood walking tours, bike tours, and so much more.
“Every time I explore the museum, I find something new,” says Olaf. “The museum isn’t just a place to bring out-of-towners or field trip groups. Life-long residents will learn and experience new things here at the museum.”
For the future, the museum is looking forward to some significant changes. An exciting overhaul of their Object Theatre will bring a new, immersive experience to the museum. But, perhaps the biggest change is the museum’s merger with the Chippewa Valley Logging Museum. The organizations are combining in order to help everyone optimize their resources and streamline their operations. The merger is expected to be complete in 2023.
If you’re in the market for some unique local gifts, consider the museum for your holiday shopping. Museum gift cards and memberships are always a great idea. We recommend you make time to browse the museum gift shop that features a selection of books and gifts that relate back to the Chippewa Valley and our history here. Museum admission is not required to visit the gift shop.