Waldo painting of Lake Winnebago

About OPM

The Oshkosh Public Museum


To preserve and promote history, art, and culture for Oshkosh residents and visitors by stewarding collections, creating educational experiences, and providing access to the unique heritage of the Lake Winnebago Region.

Purpose + Vision


The OPM enhances civic vitality, community identity, and quality of life by providing opportunities to experience Oshkosh through an ecosystem of history, arts, and culture. 


To create a community of culture within the City of Oshkosh.

Tiffany Studios wisteria stained glass
Historic Sawyer Home blueprint


In 1922 Edgar Sawyer gave his home to the City of Oshkosh, only stipulating that it be used for the benefit of the public.” The property had many opportunities to meet the needs of Oshkosh. After months of deliberation, citizens decided that a museum be formed. This new museum would meet community need as "an important feature of a modern city’s life."

On November 8, 1924, the museum opened its doors to the public for the first time. Thousands of people attended the opening event.  Early in 1925 the museum adopted the name Oshkosh Public Museum. 

Through the decades since, OPM's collection and facilities have grown. In 1982 the Steiger Wing addition moved the Museum beyond the walls of the Sawyer Home. This addition expanded gallery spaces, added a dedicated Archives, and increased amenities for visitors. 

1994 Fire

In June 1994 during relatively routine repair work to the roof’s copper gutters, a soldering torch ignited the wood house frame. The third floor was engulfed in flames. The Oshkosh Fire Department used 750,000 gallons of water to extinguish the major fire that ensued. Firefighters were forced to enter OPM through the roof to reach the fire because it was too dangerous to fight it from inside.

At least 6,000 artifacts were impacted by the fire. The dedicated service of the Oshkosh Fire Department contained the damage. Their service prevented the loss of the Sawyer Home, Apostles Clock, and thousands of other artifacts. 

Following the 1994 fire, OPM spent several years rebuilding. This required restoring the interior of the Historic Sawyer Home. The quality and accuracy of this restoration earned the Oshkosh Public Museum awards from both the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Association for State and Local History. 

Aerial view of the Historic Sawyer Home fire of 1994