There's something for everyone at our museum!

Artifacts, maps and photographs capturing the history of Wisconsin's third oldest settlement are featured in the Museum at the Portage. The past is illuminated through hundreds of authentic pieces from this unique place at the intersection of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. Discover the story of Portage as you explore area history and culture shaped by the influences of rivers, native people, early explorers, brickyards, railroads, and local residents.

Zona Gale's MacFarlane St House

The Museum at the Portage is housed in the Georgian Revival-style home author Zona Gale shared with her husband, William Breese. Upon her death in 1938, her husband deeded the building to the city as a memorial to his wife. The city converted the building to a public library, a function it served until 1995 when new larger library was built. Zona's former home now serves as the Museum at the Portage, and visitors are able to step into Zona's study where she wrote many of her books and short stories. The woodwork in the study is exquisite and it's easy to imagine the author at her desk. Other unique features of the building include leaded glass windows, a sunken sun porch with mosaic fountain, a hidden bathroom in Zona's study, barrel ceiling in the upstairs bathroom, and well-maintained rose garden.

There is no charge for admission to the museum, though we welcome your donation. After a brief orientation by one of our docents, you will be able to go on a self-guided tour, and the docent will be available to answer questions.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Zona Gale featured in Wisconsin History Magazine

Zona Gale was featured in the Summer 2020 edition of the "Wisconsin History Magazine" published by the Wisconsin Historical Society to its members. Click on the image to read the archive.


Policies for In-Person Visitors

Effective July 8, 2020
Revised July 20, 2020;  April 19, 2021

The safety of our visitors and staff is important to us.  We all need to do our part so that we may have a safe and enjoyable season together!  An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.  COVID-19 is a contagious disease that can lead to severe illness or death.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.  By visiting our museum, you voluntarily assume all risks related to COVID-19 exposure.

At each visit, program, or event, the museum will follow CDC guidelines to protect all staff and visitors listed on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html).  If you have any symptoms of illness, test positive for COVID-19, are awaiting results from a COVID-19 test, or have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19 (even if you have no symptoms), please wait for at least 14 days to visit our museum.  If you have one or more of these symptoms or are otherwise not feeling well, please wait at least 14 days before visiting:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever over 99 degrees
  • Unusual tiredness/fatigue
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Rash/purple or red bumps on toes or hands
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea


  • Limited Capacity & Established Hours of Operation.
    The museum will be open to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from May 13 to October 30, 2021, from 1:00 - 4:00 pm.  Appointments may be scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday in June, July and August - please call (608-742-6682) or email (museumattheportage@gmail.com) the Museum at the Portage at least 24 hours in advance to schedule your appointment.  A maximum of 10 visitors (five on the first floor and five on the second floor) with 1 staff member are allowed in the museum at any one time.  Individuals are to enter the museum using the front doors on MacFarlane Road and each individual is required to to sign in with name, address, phone number, and email address (information will only be used if we are notified that a staff member or visitor has tested positive of Covid-19 following a visit).  Visitors are asked to respect and maintain social distancing of 6 feet or more at all times.
  • Face Masks are REQUIRED.
    Everyone is required to wear a face mask inside of the museum for the protection of all visitors, volunteers, and staff.  Disposable masks will be available to visitors who did not bring their own masks.  If you have any health conditions that prevent you from wearing a mask, please do not plan a visit until the restrictions are lifted.
  • Cleaning & Sanitation of Museum.
    Visitors and staff are to use hand sanitizer upon entering the museum.  We have implemented strict cleaning and sanitation practices at the museum.  Staff will be responsible for disinfecting high-touch surfaces and cleaning the bathroom routinely after every visitor. 

Portage Museum on the WKOW 27 Midday Show

Brick Memorial Terrace

An opportunity to have an engraved brick paver honoring an individual, family or business. Engraved bricks will serve as a lasting tribute to those – past or present – who established Portage as a cultural center since 1854 and those who continue to serve the city.

To order a brick online, please click here.

Did you know? This day in Portage history:

1953 The new Portage Lumber compoany, located in the old Firari Building on East Wisconsin Street will be officially open for bueinss on Monday. The business is owned by a corporation of which F.L. Chase is president.  The brothers Chase are also owners of yards at ?DeForest and Sun Prairie. The business will be under the management of Ray Dorn, now residing in DeForest. He intends to move to Portage in the near future.


August 20, 2022, at 10:00 am
“Celebrating Friendship Village”

September (TBD) at 5:30 pm
“Member Appreciation Night”

Museum Hours


April & May:
Thursday – Saturday
1:00 – 4:00 pm

June, July & August:
Tuesday – Saturday
1:00 – 4:00 pm

September & October:
Thursday – Saturday
1:00 – 4:00 pm


For general information about the Museum at the Portage, please contact us at:

Museum at the Portage
P.O. Box 727
Portage, WI 53901
Phone: (608) 742-6682 (only during open hours)
Email: museumattheportage@gmail.com


Face Masks encouraged but not required –
hand sanitizer & face masks available for visitors.


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