Every year, visitors head to Madison for business as well as pleasure, enjoying the sights, museums, restaurants, shopping, and more. Whether you are in town for a sports game, to visit a university, for business, to relax, or for another reason, there are dozens of hotels to choose from. Stay in the center of downtown, off in a suburb, or somewhere in between. Choose an inn with some character or a hotel that is part of a familiar national chain. Select what amenities matter the most to you and what extra facilities you need, then go ahead and find the Madison hotel you should stay at during your trip. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
4.Hotel Ruby Marie
6.Hyatt Place Madison
7.Mansion Hill Inn
8.Sheraton Madison Hotel
9.Madison Concourse Hotel
10.Wisconsin Union Hotel
11.Hyatt Place Madison - Verona
12.Madison Marriott West
Where to Stay in Madison - 12 Best Romantic Getaways
- The Edgewater, Photo: Courtesy of Jan - Fotolia.com
- AC Hotel, Photo: AC Hotel
- Graduate Madison, Photo: Graduate Madison
- Hotel Ruby Marie, Photo: Hotel Ruby Marie
- HotelRED, Photo: HotelRED
- Hyatt Place Madison, Photo: Hyatt Place Madison
- Mansion Hill Inn, Photo: Mansion Hill Inn
- Sheraton Madison Hotel, Photo: Sheraton Madison Hotel
- Madison Concourse Hotel, Photo: Madison Concourse Hotel
- Wisconsin Union Hotel, Photo: Wisconsin Union Hotel
- Hyatt Place Madison - Verona, Photo: Hyatt Place Madison / Verona
- Madison Marriott West, Photo: Madison Marriott West
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of soupstock - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art collects, preserves, and exhibits modern and contemporary art. Its mission is to educate and inspire the community through exhibits and programming. Museum admission, as well as most special event programming, is free to the public.
The permanent collection currently includes some 5,000 pieces and was made possible through gifts and donations. Works represent some of the most important 20th and 21st-century artists worldwide, as well as Wisconsin area contemporary artists. Additionally, the collection includes works representative of major museum exhibitions. Past exhibitions of works from the permanent collection include Mexican prints, and the works of the artists Ed Paschke (1939–2004), an American painter and student of the Art Institute of Chicago, and John Buck (b.1946), an American sculptor and print maker known for his bronze sculptures and woodblock prints. A large sample of the permanent collection is cataloged online. Works range from Manuel Álvarez Bravo, a Mexican photographer who defined modern photography in the 1930s and 1940s.
to Kathe Kollwitz, the German expressionist sculptor and printmaker known for her powerful lithographs that reflect the struggles of post-World War II Germany. Roy Lichtenstein, Claus Oldenburg, Ellsworth Kelly, Cindy Sherman, and Jin Soo Kim are also represented, among many others. The museum aims to offer a diverse collection that spans cultures, communities, and media. In addition to painting, drawing, and sculpture, the museum collects photography as well as video and audio media. Works in the permanent collection range from realist and expressionist to abstract and conceptual.
History: Originally established as the Madison Art Association in 1901, the museum has a 105-year history of exhibiting art in borrowed spaces. In 1964, the museum landed a more permanent home when it merged with the Madison Art Foundation to become the Madison Art Center and leased a building on Lake Mendota. The Art Center moved into the Madison Civic Center in 1980, where it was able to house more ambitious exhibitions. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art finally found a permanent home in 2006, with a uniquely designed space at the Overture Center for the Arts. The building, made possible by a large donation from W. Jerome Frautschi, was designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli. The current facility offers over 60,000 square feet of space for exhibitions, art storage and preservation, events, and study, and includes a rooftop sculpture garden.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Museum admission is free as is admission to the majority of the museum’s events. Ongoing programs include talks and tours. Talks are offered by curators, artists, professors of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and educated volunteer docents. Subjects reflect the ideas presented in the temporary exhibits as well as deeper explorations of the permanent collection. Guided tours of the permanent collection are available. MMoCA Cinema is an ongoing program that shows avant-garde and alternative films and videos outdoors on the rooftop garden each summer. The program is now in its 12th year. The museum offers several programs for children, including ArtZone, a 2-hour workshop combining education with hands-on activities, and Kids’ Art Adventures, a family-friendly program in which kids make art together with their parents while learning about the permanent collection. Art Cart is a free outdoor summer program that takes Art Adventures to the community at playgrounds and parks in the Madison area.
Past and Future Exhibits: Temporary exhibits celebrate a wide range of media, cultures, and communities. Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time is a solo exhibit of new work by Brooklyn native Kambui Olujimi. The show spans a wide range of media from wheat pasting to digital prints to glass blowing. In Reconfigured Reality: Contemporary Photography from the Permanent Collection, visitors are presented with an overview of how photography has changed and evolved from the 1970s to the present day. Digital Aura exhibits several Madison-based contemporary artists in partnership with the Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL). The exhibit opened with Bike the Art, a bike tour of contemporary art spaces across Madison, which takes place monthly during the spring and summer months. The annual Art Fair on the Square provides the museum with most of its funding, in addition to that from memberships and donations. 2017 marks the 59th annual art fair, a 2-day summer event that attracts over 200,000 visitors to Madison’s Capital Square to shop from over 500 artists’ exhibits and enjoy food and live music.
What’s Nearby: The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is directly adjacent to the Overture Center for the Arts, a performance space offering a schedule of exhibitions, performances, and concerts.
227 State Street, Madison, WI 53703, Phone: 608-257-0158
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Attraction Spotlight: University of Wisconsin-Madison Geology Museum
The Geology Museum at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is open to the public free of charge. The museum is home to approximately 120,000 geological and paleontological specimens, and is also a depository for specimens collected from federal lands by the National Parks.
The 3,000 square feet of exhibit space includes educational geological displays about the Earth, tectonic plates, and the Earth’s rocks and minerals. The Blacklight Display showcases specimens that glow in the dark, or phosphoresce. The Cave Exhibit shows the interior of a typical Wisconsin cave and teaches about stalactites and stalagmites. The Groundwater exhibit and Glacial Wisconsin exhibit teach about the cycle of water through the Earth and atmosphere, as well as Wisconsin’s geological history. Fossils of plants, invertebrates, and animals make up the most popular exhibits. Fossilized and petrified plants up to 300 million years old are on display. The museum is home to a collection of fossilized soft-bodied organisms from Waukesha Lagerstätte, a remarkably preserved Wisconsin site that offers insight into the life forms that existed in the early Silurian period, approximately 430 million years ago. Also on display are approximately 85-million-year-old fish, reptiles, and birds from the Cretaceous Niobrara Formation. Visitors can see reptiles and dinosaurs from the Jurassic Morrison Formation, one of the most prolific sources of dinosaur fossils in North America, and the Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation, named for Hell Creek near Jordan, Montana. Paleogene mammals, the Earth’s first mammals, from the White River Badlands of South Dakota are also on display. Fossil exhibits combine real and replica fossils to recreate full skeletons. The largest specimens include the Boaz mastodon, a 12,000-year-old relative of the elephant, and the replica of the glyptodon, a prehistoric giant relative of the armadillo. The Fossil Preparation Lab offers visitors a behind-the-scenes look at students and museum staff as they prepare fossils for exhibition. Visitors learn about the preparation of the fossils, the removal of loose sediment and rock, digital cataloging, and 3D scanning. An extraterrestrial geology collection includes samples from meteorites that have fallen to Earth as well as plaster replicas of moon rocks.
History: The idea of an exhibit of the natural resources of Wisconsin was a topic of discussion at the very first Board of Regents meeting at the university in 1848. In 1877, when the university’s Science Hall was completed, the Geology Museum found its beginnings in a small space on the third floor, where it displayed geological and mineral samples from the area. In 1884, a devastating fire destroyed the original Science Hall and a good portion of the Geology Museum’s collection. However, with funds raised from the Wisconsin legislature, the Science Hall was rebuilt in 1888. A student assistant to the architect, Allen D Conover, was the young Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1929, the museum’s first curator, Gilbert Rassch, was appointed.
Rassch saved the museum through the Great Depression by creating miniature models of dinosaurs, mammoths, and mastodons, painted and mounted on plaster plaques, to attract the public’s attention. Many of these small models are preserved and can be seen at the museum today. Rassch’s improvements included the glass display cases and the preservation of the largest specimens, especially the Boaz mastodon, casually referred to as Old Nic. The skeleton is 15 feet long and stands almost 10 feet tall. Today, the Geology Museum is located in Weeks Hall, its home since 1981, and has the second highest attendance of museums on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The Geology Museum offers both self-guided and guided tours. Self-guided tours are enhanced with a tour guide book, and scavenger hunt programs are available for both younger and older children. Guided tours deliver age-appropriate content depending on the group attending. The 1-hour tours feature hundreds of samples of rocks and minerals, a black light exhibit showcasing glow-in-the-dark rocks, and skeletons of dinosaurs, and Ice Age animals. Guided group tours must be scheduled a minimum 2 weeks in advance. Museum Storytime is a program for pre-school-aged children and is offered on the first and third Thursday each month. Children are read a story, engage in a hands-on craft, and go home with a mineral sample.
What’s Nearby: Other museums on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus include the Chazen Museum of Art. The Wisconsin Science Museum and Madison Children’s Museum are also nearby.
1215 W Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53706, Phone: 608-262-1412
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Attraction Spotlight: Madison Children’s Museum
The Madison Children’s Museum in Madison, Wisconsin, connects children to their families, friends, and communities through play. The museum offers interactive, engaging, and entertaining custom exhibits to encourage learning through play in a sustainable, supportive, friendly, and equal access environment. Each separate exhibit space incorporates sounds, lights and hands-on activities to promote learning and engagement.
In the Possible-opolis exhibit, children learn about invention with puzzles and games made from repurposed and recycled materials. Kids run in a life-sized gerbil wheel, use pulleys and harnesses to “mooove” a cow, and scale a two-story climbing wall. The Log Cabin exhibit takes children back through the history of Wisconsin where they can write with a quill pen, cook on an open hearth, ‘cut timber’ with a two-man saw and churn butter. The Log Cabin exhibit is built inside an authentic 1838 log cabin, transported to the museum with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy. The Community Concourse offers interactive exhibits that incorporate gears, machinery that runs on the power of water as well as ball runs, public art, and videos. The Art Studio exhibit lets children create their own masterpieces by tracing shadows on the wall in the Shadow Room, weaving on a loom, sculpting, or drawing. The Stair Trek incorporates the stairwells of the five-story museum into an exhibit designed to encourage kids to move and be active. The exhibit, in partnership with Design to Move, offers sounds, light, and colorful drawings to represent a journey from the center of the Earth to the cosmos. The Rooftop Ramble is an outdoor play area with a pond, garden, and playground equipment. The clubhouse on the rooftop is host to reptiles and rodents, and there is a chicken coop that produces 1,400 eggs annually. Most exhibits are suitable for children of all ages. Activities for children under 5 years old include the Wildernest, a multi-cultural village full of hands-on activities for young children incorporating lights, colors, and textures, and the Urb Garden, a rooftop garden where young children under 5 can learn about worm composting, growing vegetables, and enjoy watching fish in the fish tank.
History: The Madison Children’s Museum was founded in 1980 by a group of early childhood specialists. The museum began as a band of volunteers who led programming for kids at the Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Soon, the popular children’s programs found a home of their own. A major expansion occurred in 2005 when the museum moved into a $5 million building donated by W. Jerome Frautschi. The building, originally built in 1929 as a Montgomery Ward department store, made use of a $10 million capital campaign to develop it into today’s Children’s Museum. Renovations were completed by local builders using recycled and sustainably sourced materials. The newly renovated museum opened in 2010. In 2014, the building achieved LEED Gold Certification and is the first LEED certified museum in Wisconsin. Today, the Madison Children’s Museum hosts upwards of 200,000 visitors annually and is proud to be an example of sustainable practices for museums everywhere.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Special events for children take place in the exhibit spaces each weekend. Space Yoga is a 20-minute program where kids learn about the solar system through movement. Bubble science educates about wind, science, and bubbles through play with giant bubble wands. Cabin Cooking is an open grill cooking demonstration, which teaches about history, science, and math. Other annual programs include Healthy Habits Week, Dental Health Week, Kids for Peace Day, and Winter Wonder Week. Day Camps for kids take place throughout the summer and are based on different themes such as the Advanced Project Funway fashion design camp and the Design a City architectural design and 3D sculpting camp. Family programming includes Free Family Night, which opens the museum to everyone for free on the first Wednesday of each month. Programs for adults include Adult Swim: Glow Motion, a glow-in-the-dark DJ dance party. SPARK! is a 90-minute program for adults with memory loss, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, which encourages memory access through craft programs such as terrarium making, tie-dying, and cookie decorating.
Past and Future Exhibits: The museum is also host to some temporary exhibits. New exhibits include Seymor’s Adventure, which teaches about lake habitats and fish anatomy, and features Seymor, a popular fish character from the past exhibit, Leap into Lakes. The Montgomery Ward Hardware Department exhibit plays off the history of the museum building’s first role, with a hands-on exhibit incorporating the use of tools.
100 N Hamilton Street, Madison, WI 53703, Phone: 608-256-6445
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