Visit the museum, or ask about traveling exhibits and talks

Exhibit: How the Other Half Lives


Photographs by Jacob A. Riis
  • June 16 - August 11, 2019
  • This traveling exhibit from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ touring program, "NEH on the Road," documents the squalid living conditions of New York’s poor immigrants and laborers in “The Gilded Age” of the early 20th century. This contrast to the growing wealth of millionaires, such as Carnegie and Rockefeller, inspired many reforms of working-class housing. Riis was a Danish-born American photographer (1849-1914).
  • This event was made possible with a generous donation from Edwin & Irma Wolf.
  • Media & Events
  • Opening Reception - June 26, 4:30 - 6:00 PM [ invitation | press release ]
  • BG Independent News - June 12 Article
Exhibit: For Comfort & Convenience


Public Charity in Ohio by Way of the Poor Farm
  • February 1 - December 20, 2019
  • It took 48 years for all 88 Ohio counties to be established, with Ohio becoming a state in 1803. In 1816, the Ohio General Assembly authorized boards of county commissioners to construct poor houses to care for those unable to provide the basic necessities of life for themselves: food, clothing, and shelter.
  • This exhibit features documentary photography coupled with interpretive information about all 88 county poor farms in Ohio, up until the 1930s when public charity transitioned into the modern ideas of social work.
  • This exhibit was made possible by the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Humanities. Photography by Jeffrey Hall. #WoodCountyMuseum
Exhibit: For Comfort & Convenience
Exhibit: For Comfort & Convenience


BGSU Photojournalism student, Brendan L. Hall, captures the Poor Farm exhibit. Watch his YouTube video here.

An exhibit on early social relief


  • This introduction to the Wood County Infirmary shows how the Ohio State Board of Charities and early social reform impacted Wood County's poor, disabled, elderly, and infirmed from 1869-1971.
Infirmary Pestilence House

Societal Response to Disease

  • This exhibit is inside the Pestilence House
  • This exhibit defines diseases that have affected people all over the globe and illustrates a number of social programs that grew as a result including sanitary reform, urban planning, bath culture, nursing, pharmaceuticals, education, and public health organizations.
  • This building served as living quarters for men with communicable diseases such as scarlet fever and influenza, keeping them separated from other Infirmary residents. Also on exhibit is an iron lung and other items reminiscent of early medical history.
Infirmary Asylum

An Historical Look at American Mental Illness

  • This exhibit is inside the Lunatic Asylum
  • The Asylum building was added to the Infirmary site in 1885 to provide comfort and safety to mentally ill male residents. Today, a poignant exhibit outlines the development of mental health practices and social stigmas. To compliment this exhibit and structure, the Wood County Historical Society works closely with local mental health agencies and educators to provide education and outreach.
Infirmary Ice House


  • The original Infirmary Ice House, built in 1905 with materials from the old county jail, now keeps cool a display about its history. Before the days of electric refrigeration, the Ice House served as a receptacle for ice blocks harvested from the site's ponds, to preserve meat and canned goods used to feed the Infirmary residents.

Traveling Exhibits

If you would like to borrow a traveling exhibit, please contact the Museum at 419.352.0967

Exhibit: Behind Fences


  • Built as a companion piece to the Smithsonian's Between Fences exhibit, this local exhibit looks at fences and boundaries, both physical and figurative, at the Wood County Infirmary. In the forefront is the Brandeberry Wall that surrounds the grounds still today, as well as the perceived fences between Infirmary residents and the community.
  • Wood Co Fences on Flickr Gallery
  • YouTube mini-documentary video about historic boundaries at the Infirmary and in Wood County. Produced by Michelle Carlisle, Defiance College. As seen on DCTV Channel 5, Defiance, Ohio.
  • This exhibit was developed as a partner to BETWEEN FENCES from Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.
Exhibit: Oak Grove Cemetery


  • Which Bowling Green tailor provided lumber to the city’s booming glass industry and downtown businesses? Which community-minded women were instrumental in the development of Bowling Green’s first Library and Hospital? Why would a professor eat makeshift tomato soup from ketchup and hot water, and then leave his entire estate to the University to benefit future students? These four people, among 17 others, left their mark on the City of Bowling Green, and are now remembered in the Oak Grove Cemetery Living History Exhibit.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society. The Oak Grove Cemetery Book, published by the Genealogical Society, is now available.
  • Also see Wood County Living History Day in August at Oak Grove Cemetery
Exhibit: Wood County Fair


  • The first Wood County Fair was held in 1851 in a grove of trees on Wooster Street (near the present City Building), but has grown into a week-long tradition of music, animals, exhibits, rides, and food. This exhibit traces the history of the many Wood County Fairs, including its demise in 1927 and its revival in the 1950s.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.
Exhibit: Wood County Children's Home


  • From dependent to dependable, the Wood County Children's Home served youth in need from 1908 to 1959. The original home, as well as the stately institution, both which are still visible in Bowling Green today, are a testament to the County's duty to social welfare. Watched over for many years by superintendent Nellie Repass, the children that resided in the home share their stories. Whether unruly or unfortunate, the Children's Home helped many families stay strong.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.
Exhibit: Residents Remembered


  • Nine Infirmary residents are showcased in this exhibit, which debuted at the 2004 Wood County Fair. A joint effort of the Wood County Historical Society and the Wood County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, each panel explains the myriad of reasons that would necessitate people to become an Infirmary resident. Disabilities, the Depression, and a series of misfortunes may have brought them here, but you may be surprised at the dynamics that followed.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.
Exhibit: Northwest Ohio Foodways


  • The foods of Northwest Ohio may not seem particularly interesting at first, but a closer look reveals a deep-rooted history of German ancestry, Mexican influence, and pioneer struggles. This exhibit was funded by a Partnership for Community Action grant as a dual project between the Wood County Historical Society and the foodways studies of Dr. Lucy Long, department of American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University.
  • This local exhibit was developed as a companion piece to the Smithsonian's KEY INGREDIENTS: AMERICA BY FOOD exhibit.
  • More about Ohio Foodways and the Center for Food and Culture.
Exhibit: Wood County Granges


  • Formally known as the PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY, the Grange was founded by Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley in 1867. Organized as a "farm-friendly fraternity," the Grange offered social and community rewards to benefit rural life. Today, the Grange is still active across the United States, with 33 Granges in Wood County, Ohio. Under the direction of Floyd LeGalley, Ralph Seiler, and Ralph Brandeberry, the Grange Building at the Wood County Fairgrounds still honors agricultural pride in Northwest Ohio.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.
Exhibit: Century Farms


  • This exhibit showcases century farms in Wood County - properties that have remained in one family for over 100 years. Assistance provided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Photos, paintings, drawings, and memorabilia of Wood County barns brought a personal touch to this landmark accomplishment.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.