Museums and History · South Central Iowa

A Remarkable Look Into Iowa History: Madison County’s Proud Museum Complex in Winterset

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There’s always time to visit the local museum. You don’t want to pass this one up in Winterset because they have some of the most interesting items you’ll ever see. 815 South 2nd Ave

Winterset, IA: Madison County

We all have a bucket list, whether it’s a mental one or you actually write it down. My favorite moments are the times when my bucket list gets things added the moment I see something. Sounds funny, right? That’s okay if it does. I found myself in the Madison County Historical Museum seeing things that I had no idea I’ve been searching for. That is the mark of an extraordinary museum.

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Buckle up museum goers! This one is for the niche collectors out there! 
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Day 9,654 of someone never letting me touch their fine China. And that’s just fine with me here in Winterset.
These aren’t just antique glass bottles. These were….Well….Found in the depths of old outhouses.

We found out that glass can be amazingly preserved when it’s aging in the conditions explained above. The things you learn when you step foot into a county museum. I would like to remind everyone that we are just scratching the surface of the exhibits you’re going to encounter here in Winterset.

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The time when Pope John Paul II toured Iowa is well documented in many museums and Winterset’s has their own clippings on display from this historic event.
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George Washington Carver is a local legend in Winterset, being a former resident of this community. You can hear his last public address from a tape cassette recording here at the museum. 

The voice of George Washington Carver in his last public address flowing through the museum was not something I knew I wanted to hear. This was truly a remarkable gift to us and all who visit, and you will need to get here and listen for yourself. Inspiration comes in many forms and Winterset is home to a very powerful voice in our nation’s history.

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The writings and pictures of Emma Mueller Chaffee will show you the time when our world was in its most violent days. She and her fellow Red Cross workers supplied some comfort and light to some of the most awful places ever known.


Liberating the concentration camps in Nazi occupied areas was one of the most horrifying jobs of World War II. Emma took detailed pictures of her days oversees and they are here for generations to learn from. 


There is always many things to see from local veterans in every county museum we’ve been to. This was the only time I have seen a photo album like this. Emma did an incredible job of preserving history through the lens of her camera and documenting the horrors of the 1940s. Please take time to flip through her album to see her days in Europe bringing aid to a desperate continent. This was one of the most moving pieces I’ve ever experienced.

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Rock hounds love these community museums and you’ll see why. There’s millions of years of history that’s housed right here in Winterset; and the little geologist inside you is going to get a big kick out of the basement.

Arrowheads a plenty!
The state rock shines here in Winterset!
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Here’s the real show!
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Glow in the dark wasn’t invented. We took that idea from Mother Nature.

They say kids love this part of the museum and I’m here to tell you that it won’t be just the kids. Your trip to Madison County will be a little rocky and you’re going to be just fine with that. Winterset on the rocks. I love it!

The mansion you won’t want to miss in Winterset; and it’s just steps from the museum.





Remember those glass bottles from above? Places like these is where they were found. Somebody has to do it!


The grounds of the entire museum complex are beautifully kept and you’ll want to wander through all of them. The Bevington-Kaser House is the Victorian era time capsule that gives you one of the most historic tours of Iowa in this time period. Every corner, drape, bedroom, parlor, and item has a story; and the crew here in Winterset can tell you all about them. We learned so much from our guided tour and we truly encourage everyone to spend part of your afternoon getting to know Madison County heritage. Supporting these places is always the to-do of our travels, and we hope to see more travelers enjoying them as much as we do for decades to come. Thank you to all that joined us and we’ll see you again!

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