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Wisconsin Veterans Museum

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When state legislators passed Chapter 125 Laws in 1901 few would have guessed how important that enactment was. The law mandated that state officials establish a memorial dedicated to commemorating Wisconsin's role in the Civil War and "any subsequent war." The law obligated the state to provide space for purchasing display equipment to exhibit war relics and to acquire additional artifacts. The state's collection of Civil War battle flags would also be displayed in the memorial facility, and an area was set aside for a meeting room for ex-Civil War soldiers who belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)-an important veterans organization. The space was designated the G.A.R. Memorial Hall.

A destructive fire gutted the State Capitol in 1904, consuming many of the Civil War relics and historical materials in the G.A.R. Memorial Hall. Legislators authorized the establishment of another G.A.R. Memorial Hall in 1909. When the new Capitol was completed, the G.A.R. Memorial Hall was dedicated. The Civil War battle flags, which had all been saved from the fire, were installed in the new room along with exhibits of artifacts. Exhibit space amounted to 2,640 square feet.

Legislators assigned control of the G.A.R. Memorial Hall to the newly created Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs in 1945, directing the agency to "catalog, restore, conserve, preserve, safeguard, procure additions to the collections, and to display such collections as to make it instructive and attractive to visitors to the State Capitol." The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs opposed a 1955 attempt by certain legislators to absorb the G.A.R. Memorial Hall space and transfer its display function as well as its collections to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Two years later, a new enactment further cemented the Department of Veterans Affairs' tenure on the Capitol space by prohibiting alterations in the status of established veteran's memorials.

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is an educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs to commemorate, acknowledge, and affirm the role of Wisconsin citizens in American military history, past and present.

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Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Tue9:00 AM4:30 PM
Wed9:00 AM4:30 PM
Thr9:00 AM4:30 PM
Fri9:00 AM4:30 PM
Sat9:00 AM4:30 PM
Notes: Sunday (April through September) 12:00 to 4:00 The Museum is closed: Sunday: October through March State Holidays, Easter Sunday, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Years Day. The museum Research Center is open Monday-Friday 9:00am-3:30pm or by appointment. The Research Center will be closed for the holidays from December 24, 2012 to January 1, 2013.


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