L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum – Madison, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

This museum is a wondrous example of bringing science to life. Walk through its doors and be surrounded by 70 giant physics experiments and toys, each of them interactive and designed to be played with. Some of the exhibits are familiar, like a large Newton’s Cradle. Others are unfamiliar, but just as interesting.

The L. R. Ingersoll Physics Museum, built in 1918, was one of the first collections of its kind, and each exhibit follows in the original tradition of being designed and built by university faculty, staff, and students. They are enough to spark awe and curiosity in every age range.

This hidden gem is quite understated. The museum is housed in two small rooms inside a university building full of lecture halls, classrooms, and the occasional laboratory. It is often walked past by students and staff, but rarely thought about, especially due to its unassuming entrance and its location right along a fast-moving hallway. Those who have been inside, however, will always recommend taking the time to explore the marvels of our universe.

Know Before You Go

The museum is on the second floor of Chamberlin Hall, a University of Wisconsin-Madison building. Admission is free to all, and hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is only open when the physics department is, also, so go when classes are in session.

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