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Exploring Prehistoric Wonders: Dinosaur and Fossil Exhibits in Wisconsin

If you or your kids are like me, you're always on the lookout for the best dinosaur and fossil exhibits throughout Wisconsin. But worry not! Here, I have listed some of the best places, whether they be museums or little historical societies, within the Badger State to find these enormous prehistoric wonders.


Triceratops

Not only is this one my favorite because, well, Triceratops is awesome, but it's also very near and dear to my heart because I helped get this skeleton to where it is today.

A Triceratops skeleton on display in Wausau Wisconsin
Hank the Tank, Wausau's very own Triceratops

If you happen to pass through Wausau any time soon, be sure to stop at the Marathon County Public Library located in the downtown area. Parking is free! Enter through the main entrance then walk all the way to the back where you will find a beautiful, 8-foot-tall monstrosity known as Triceratops. This was a leftover from the non-profit, Colossal Fossils, that I started back in 2011 and shut down after Covid hit. We donated the skeleton to the library in February of 2024. I always referred to him as "Hank the Tank." It truly is a beautiful replica and kids can get really close to the thing.


Wooly Mammoth

The Hebior wooly mammoth skull, on display at the former Colossal Fossils museum in Wausau
A replica skull from the Hebior Mammoth

The Milwaukee Public Museum has North America's largest and most complete wooly mammoth skeleton (as of this writing). Even better, it was originally found near Kenosha, Wisonsin. Yes, that means he's a local and, yes, that means he's a Packers fan. Known as the Hebior Mammoth, it is one of the oldest bits of evidence of animal/human interaction here in North America because some of its bones had butcher marks. Yeah, this was someone's breakfast... for about a month straight. The skull in this picture was a replica that we also had at the Colossal Fossils museum, which is now part of the Wausau School District's school forest collection.


The Boaz Mastodon

I always found the Boaz Mastodon fascinating as a kid. Originally found just outside of Boaz (as well as some other places, if you watch the video), a small town close to where I grew up in Soldiers Grove, it is housed at UW-Madison's geology museum. This museum is a fantastic place to see the massive elephant cousin as well as a bunch of other great exhibits including a duck-billed dinosaur skeleton, a T. rex skull, and many other things. Free to the public, but good luck with the parking! I created this video a few years ago in conjunction with the 100-year-anniversary of the mastodon's being on display in Madison. They studied it in great detail and found some rather interesting things, most of which is mentioned in the video.


Earthhaven Museum

I met these folks a few years back when I was running Colossal Fossils, and holy cow, their museum is amazing. Located just north of Shawano, Wisconsin, the Earthhaven Museum is a must see. They are currently open by appointment only, so make sure you plan ahead and give them a call.


Weis Earth Science Museum

Want to see a bunch of fossils? Visit the Weis Earth Science Museum at UW Oshkosh. They don't technically charge admission, but they do highly recommend leaving a per-person donation (Wink-wink-nudge-nudge... They could use a couple bucks, and that's okay).


Fennimore Railroad Historical Society Museum

This one is not technically a fossil museum, but if you happen to be in the area, there are some neat items on display. Remember the Boaz Mastodon (see video above)? Some of the bones came from a specimen found near Fennimore, and they have a couple parts/pieces on display, along with an enormous squid fossil. This museum also has some neat railroad memorabilia. Want more information? Check out their website here.


Montello Historic Preservation Society

Another honorable mention! The Montello Historical Preservation Society is a really cool, small museum, and if you think artifacts (spearpoints, arrowheads, and the like) are amazing, then give this place a chance. You'll be amazed by the display cases absolutely stuffed with archaeological items that go as far back as the last ice age.


Do you have any other places in mind that you think should be on this list? Give us a shout!



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