Gallery Guide

The cornerstone of the Oshkosh Public Museum is the historic home of Edgar P. and Mary Jewell Sawyer. Designed by Oshkosh architect William Waters in a style reported as "Gothic and Old English," the home was built in 1908 by C.R. Meyer Co. of Oshkosh. The prestigious Tiffany Studios of New York was contracted to design and furnish the interiors of the home. One of the most recognizable and beautiful Tiffany features is the iridescent stained glass windows on the landing of the grand staircase.

The Sawyer home is a wonderful example of Edwardian elegance. Built of Indiana brown brick and Bedford limestone, the grand fortress encompassed approximately 17,600 square feet and incorporated all the modern conveniences of the time - horsehair insulation, two telephone lines, electrical and gas services, electric elevator and a coal-fired steam heating system. The Sawyer's estate also included a carriage house on the southwest side of the grounds, with three box stalls for horses, a carriage room and garage space for four automobiles.

Edgar donated the residence to the City of Oshkosh in 1922 "... for the benefit of the public," and it opened as a museum in November 1924. Construction of the William Steiger Wing in 1982 irreversibly altered parts of the home, and the interior of the building underwent extensive restoration after the museum fire of 1994. The quality and accuracy of the restoration earned the Oshkosh Public Museum awards from both the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Association for State and Local History.

Today the Sawyer home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum is entrusted with the care of approximately 300,000 artifacts and historical documents strongly focused around the Fox River and the extensive Winnebago watershed and representing all aspects of Oshkosh's people and heritage.

Main Floor:

  • Enjoy the brilliant hourly performance of the Apostles Clock, a rare monumental timepiece built in 1895
  • Marvel at the beauty of fine Glass and Ceramics and stunning Artwork, along with rich Tiffany treasures in the historic Sawyer home
  • People of the Waters explores Wisconsin's prehistoric past and Native American culture that spans at least 13,000 years
  • Find a wide selection of unique history products, books, and other interesting items in the Museum Store

Second Floor:

  • Discover the history and compelling stories told through a rotation of temporary and traveling exhibitions
  • Experience life on the frontier in a pioneer log cabin, uncover hidden treasures in grandma's attic, and discover the hardships of a Civil War soldier
  • Menominee Clans Story, expected to open May 2018, displays wood figures carved by the Menominee traditional artist, James F. Frechette, Jr. (1930-2006). Known by the Menominee as The Little Menominee, the intricately carved and painted figures stand between twelve and twenty inches high. The Little Menominee refers to diminutive spirit beings described in sacred Menominee legends and stories.
  • Sports & Recreation, to replace the former Logging & Lumbering gallery, will be a lively display of sporting and leisure artifacts and historic photographs of local people participating in these fun activities. Construction is expected to be completed in 2022.

Lower Level:

  • Stroll the streets of old Oshkosh by viewing historic images documenting the architecture and development of the city
  • Unlock the secrets of the past found in the discovery drawers, from military memorabilia to bank notes and coins
  • Restrooms
  • Lecture Room and Archives, open by appointment only

Download a printed copy of the gallery guide.