History Museum at the Castle

Along a busy city street, one that lines Appleton’s downtown attractions, secrets are revealed in a public museum. Yet, even if some mysteries are solved, other enigmas lurking in this structure, as the building served a sacred order, and was a gathering place for its members, may be lost to time.

Let’s start off with the building itself, which was once Appleton’s Masonic lodge. Cryptic symbols abound on the walls, windows and floors,

And stone arches lead to historical exploration.

Did I mention the windows?

Historic structure aside, there are some pretty cool exhibits, both enlightening and entertaining, set on the museum’s creaky floorboards.

Right now, in a storybook format, a temporary exhibit shows off past local businesses and services,

yesteryear’s burdens

and some past products.

Also included in this display, although I didn’t capture an illustrative still, would have been influential area residents.

Unfortunately, with the museum’s permanent exhibit undergoing an overhaul, we weren’t allowed into the bowels of the building. That’s a shame, because it’s a fun overview of the Fox Cities’ history.

But hey, there was a permanent exhibit we were allowed to see.

The master illusionist Harry Houdini claimed to have been born in Appleton. While those claims are false, Houdini, which was originally his stage name, spent a good portion of his childhood in this city.

So, naturally, on the third floor, an interesting and interactive exhibit awaits the museum goer. This place reveals how many sideshow magicians, including Houdini, pulled off their tricks.

You could show off your superhuman strength,

escape a straight jacket,

make a wand float in your palm

disappear right out of this box

or try many other elements of Houdini’s experience.

And to top the museum visit off right, stepping away from Houdini, a small classic toy exhibit, one that features both boy’s

and girl’s toys,

gives kids perspective on how times have changed.

With all that said, with an admission price of $10 for adults and $7.50 for children, the museum provides some decent entertainment, information and insight. I feel that a little upkeep and updating is needed in the Houdini portion. However, all and all, it was a fun excursion and I think kids would love it!

Safe Travels!

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