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.

Now On Display


The Zaaga’igan Ma’iinganag (Ojibwe language for Lakewolves) program creates a platform of expression for youth by exploring the Lake Superior watershed, cameras in hand and fins on foot. The program is all about the students, their experience and well-being, sharing their photographs with others, and learning about aquatic science and cultural expression. The program uses Ojibwemowin place names for areas they photograph, allowing the students to connect tribal histories.
Lakewolves was founded by Dr. Toben Lafrancois, a freshwater biologist, photographer, and research diver dedicated to serving our waters and their future protectors. Lafrancois is also a Research Associate at Northland College, Ashland, WI.
Lafrancois collaborates with Bayfield High School teacher Rick Erickson to weave the students’ photography into ongoing research and writing projects. The students learn and feel connected to the research and why it’s important. Many of the Lakewolves graduates have gone on to serve Lake Superior in various ways, including working for the National Park Service at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The Lakewolves programs are in collaboration with the Northwest Passage, Ltd with support from Bayfield High School, Wisconsin Sea Grant, Chequamegon Bay Arts Council, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, and the National Park Service. Thanks to sponsors these programs are expanding their reach and connecting teens with freshwater science.
The Zaaga’igan Ma’iinganag: Lakewolves Underwater Photography exhibition will be on display at the David R. Obey Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center from November 10 through Spring 2024. Stop by and immerse yourself in this Lake Superior underwater photographic collection!



ZiM Logo 3
Photo by Bazile Panek
Photo by Bazile Panek

2023 Traveling Exhibit Schedule