The Main Exhibit Hall

Exhibit Hall
Exhibit Hall Fish Display

Celebrate the history and heritage of Lake Superior in our museum. Listen to spirited songs of voyageurs singing as they paddle their fur laden, 35-foot birch bark canoe across Lake Superior. Peek inside an 18th century fur trade post. Feel the pulsating rumble of an explosion in a deep-shaft iron mine. Our unique displays stage an overview of human cultures interacting with the land and natural resources of the Northern Great Lakes region, from the Ice Age to the present.

Community of Life Mural

Mural 2

The Community of Life Mural was completed in the spring of 2013. Artist Kelly Meredith designed six vignettes depicting the various ways that residents of the Lake Superior region have lived on and with the land we call home. The six vignettes include tributes to Native Americans, fur traders, loggers, farmers, commercial fisherpersons, and people who love the outdoors, as well as many different species of plants and wildlife.

This mural shows the complete human history of the area starting with pre- contact Anishinaabe life ways and ending with the present day. Along the way, the mural illustrates how changing industries (trapping, logging, farming, fishing, etc.) impact the land and in turn affect the different species that can live in the altered landscape. This project was made possible through fundraising of the Friends of the Center, Alliance Ltd.

Did you know that Ashland is the Historic Mural Capital of Wisconsin? Stop by our front desk and pick up a copy of the mural walking tour.


From Susan and Erin, I learned to count wild rice populations, using a square quadrant to frame analysis at each sampling point. But I also took breaks from sampling with Susan to search for wild blueberries, admire whirligig beetles, and to smell fragrant white water lillies (Nymphaea odorata). I also saw how Erin saturated her weekends with biking, canoeing, and swimming, and was always ready to jump in the water and surround herself with what she loved to study.  The heart and love behind what's happening in research aren't the titles of scientific paper's, but drive them all.
Susan and Erin on Aurora Lake by Artist Catherine Nelson.

Aquatica: Reflections on Wisconsin Lakes is now on display on the second-floor gallery.  In partnership, the UW Madison Center for Limnology's Trout Lake Station, the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Escanaba Lake Research Station present Aquatica, works by student interns and professional artists representing shared journeys in art and science during the summers of 2022 and 2023.