Jacobsens Museum – Washington, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

Jacobsens Museum

Exhibits from an island in Lake Michigan are preserved in this hand-built cabin museum. 


Jacobsens Museum was built in 1931 originally to house the collections and crafts of its creator, Jens Jacobsen. A Danish immigrant, Jacobsen arrived on Washington Island in 1881 at the age of 14 and lived there for the rest of his life, dying at 85 in 1952.

In the 1920s, Jacobsen started building vacation cabins by hand on land he owned around Little Lake, the only inland lake on Washington Island. He built the cabins with walls of vertical cedar logs rather than the usual horizontal log style of American cabins and capped his achievement with the museum in 1931.

The museum contains locally found artifacts, fossils, and rocks, in addition to Jacobsen’s own crafted model boats and scrollwork and examples of his furniture. Over the years donations to the museum from islanders have included the original telephone switchboard used until July 1968 and a 90-year-old pinball machine.

Near the museum, you can find two smaller cabins. One was built by Jacobsen as his summer home, and the other was originally built as a place for writing and study by the Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen. He moved here from its original site on the northwest side of Little Lake. 

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Open from June to mid-October.

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October 24, 2022

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