Current Exhibits

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Russell Oakes was an active community member, advertising professional, husband & father, and one of the best known satirical-scientists across the United States.

Beginning in the 1930s, Oakes started showing his crazy inventions at conventions, dinners and meetings. His machines are referred to as “Rube Goldberg” type inventions. One example is a cigarette lighter that uses a sponge, mouse, levers, flywheels and sandpaper. Oakes popularity spread and he even wrote a book about outhouses called “They Go Modern.” He appeared in a series of movie “shorts” that were made in Hollywood. Oakes made many guest appearances on early TV shows, including “I’ve Got A Secret.”

Some clips of Russell’s “act” were donated, and perserved by the National Archives, and or stop by the exhibit to check them out inches away from the inventions themselves.

In July and August, John Schoenknecht’s Waukesha Freeman column will feature the story of this inventive and creative “Wacky Wizard of Waukesha.”

Get a sneak preview of the crazy mind of Russell Oakes and see many of his contraptions. Then read about them in the July and August Waukesha Freeman.

A building for all time 2


Starting with one room in the basement, the historical society has called the courthouse complex home for more than 100 years.

Take a look back at how the building has changed over time – from the building of the jail in 1885 to the erection of the connector building in the 1930’s – and check out our plans for the future.


Les Paul Museum

Les Paul: The Wizard of Waukesha

Beginning in Evelyn Polsfuss’ living room in Waukesha, WI, the man who would become synonymous with the electric guitar observed, listened, experimented, and  performed a new sound that would change popular music.

From Red Hot Red’s Ragtime Band to his work with Mary Ford, Les Paul created music that helped to define not only his generation but altered the way music would be recorded and played for years to come.

From his work to developing a solid-body electric guitar to his innovations in multi-track layered recording, his legacy forever changed pop-music. Get an up-close look at some of Les’ guitars and recording equipment, plus some of the personal items that embody his joy and enthusiasm.

See Sam Llanas tribute video to Les Paul!
The sound that changed the world, born in Waukesha, WI.