Wisconsin Automotive Museum

147 N Rural St Hartford

Best Museums in Milwaukee/Wisconsin Automotive Museum
Written By VAMONDE

Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions

Wisconsin Automotive Museum

Ever want to see a vintage car in its original glory? The Wisconsin Automotive Museum does just this, making history come alive. Showcasing transportation history, the museum is Wisconsin’s largest auto museum, featuring an ever-changing display of classic and vintage autos and artifacts plus the largest assembled group of Hartford-built Kissel luxury automobiles. The Wisconsin Automotive Museum works with several other organizations. The Nash Car Club of America has space within the museum dedicated to the Wisconsin based vehicles and related memorabilia. The Hudson Essex Terraplane Historical Society and Southeastern Wisconsin Short Track Hall of Fame also maintains special display areas for their vehicles.

Kissel Cars

The museum prides itself on its special collection of rare Kissel cars. The high caliber Kissel automobiles were manufactured in Hartford 1906 – 1931, making Kissel the second-longest car manufacturer in Wisconsin. Of the 27,000 produced fewer than 150 are known to exist today, with 25 currently exhibited at the museum. The most famous Kissel model was the two passenger Speedster, nicknamed the “Gold Bug.” Gold Bug owners included celebrities of the day such as Amelia Earhart, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, and Fatty Arbuckle. A wide selection of models including 4 passenger, coupes, touring cars, fire engines, and trucks are part of the collection.

Car Totals

The museum’s striking art deco interior sets off 110+ vehicles on exhibit, including Pontiacs, Studebakers, Chevrolets, Kaisers, Fords, and other cars from around the world. The museum opened in July 1986 with 46 cars on the first floor. Over the years the second floor was renovated and the number of cars now stays in the range of 115 vehicles.

Beyond Cars

The automotive museum does not just have cars. In addition, the museum is home to and showcases the 1913 #1003 Soo Line steam locomotive along with other railroad artifacts. The collection is rounded out by displays of automotive artifacts such as gas pumps, signs, license plates, oil cans, and other petroliana. An assortment of outboard engines built in Hartford from 1930s – 1990s are also on display. For the car lovers out there, come visit the Wisconsin Automotive Museum and experience a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see older models as they were meant to be.

Visit the Wisconsin Automotive Museum

Images and information provided courtesy of the Wisconsin Automotive Museum

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