The Skare Collection at the McFarland Historical Society

The Skare Collection at the McFarland Historical Society

From Wisconsin Historical Society’s Columns magazine, 2012, March-April edition, page 6.

I N 1 9 4 2 the Wisconsin Magazine of History wrote: “Museum curators and antique collectors have figuratively gone mad over the treasures that Albert Skare has housed in his ‘Hidden Farm’ log cabin museum near McFarland.” Born in McFarland in 1878 to Norwegian immigrant parents, Albert Skare began assembling a collection of Norwegian and Norwegian-American artifacts sometime in the early 20th century. In addition to bentwood boxes, hand-carved spoons, turned wooden bowls and other examples of folk art brought to Wisconsin by Norwegian immigrants, he collected farming equipment, tools, kitchen implements and other artifacts of daily life in rural Wisconsin used by his family members and other Norwegian-American families in the area.

Following Skare’s death in 1967, his niece Margaret Greene Kennedy donated the entire collection of more than 1,000 objects to the McFarland Historical Society. In 1973 McFarland Historical Society volunteers disassembled the log cabin that was once at the heart of Skare’s “Hidden Farm” museum and moved it to the Society’s property on McFarland’s Main Street.

Highlights from Skare’s extensive collection can now be viewed online thanks to a collaboration of the McFarland Historical Society, Wisconsin Heritage Online and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In summer 2011 the UW’s material culture program paired three undergraduate students with three local historical societies to help them build digital resources. History major Katie Dreps worked with McFarland Historical Society President Dale Marsden and other society volunteers to select, research and catalog examples of the household goods and folk art in the Skare collection. Katie’s own Norwegian heritage inspired her to learn more about these objects: “My grandmother grew up on a farm outside of Lodi, the granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants. … This internship has been a great opportunity for me to connect with my Norwegian heritage in a direct way.”

View selections from the Skare collection online at

  • Philip A Gullickson
    Posted at 19:22h, 10 October Reply

    Hi A friend of mine Gregg Simpson, his grand mother was married to Albert Skate and lived on the hidden farm. Sounds very interesting to me, the history of McFarland. I lived in McFarland a short time in 1980. My brother owned a business in McFarland. He lived there with his family and raised three children in McFarland. My daughter lives there and works for the McFarland school district. My brother built and owns the Pizza Barn and Gully’s. I live in Stougjton. Retired from Dane County Highway Deptartment. Thanks

    • Jane Licht
      Posted at 21:18h, 14 October Reply

      Philip, Thanks for your comments. You should visit the Museum on Main Street, the Norwegian log cabin and the Larson House Museum. They are all open Sunday afternoons 1 to 4 PM from Memorial Day through September. The Larson House is also open Sunday afternoons in December. By the way, I also worked for the county as I was register of deeds for 18 years from 1989 – 2007.

      Jane Licht 838-8178

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