A donation from Don and Judi Olson will help renovate the museum at UW-Stevens Point. Pictured, from left, Amanda Gilman, University Advancement; Joshua Hagen, College of Letters and Science; Judi and Don Olson; Will Broussard, University Advancement; and Brigid Ferkett, Olson Museum of Natural History. (Courtesy UWSP)

Alumni couple make large donation to UWSP’s natural history museum

Metro Wire Staff

A gift from a UWSP alumni couple will help reestablish the university’s natural history museum in a new location inside the university’s Science Building.

Don and Judi Olson of Stevens Point gave a donation valued at $450,000 to the museum. As a result, the facility will be renamed the Olson Museum of Natural History in their honor. The museum was relocated from Albertson Hall in 2023 in preparation for the rebuilding of the library.

“As graduates of UW-Stevens Point, we are pleased to be able to support the completion of the Museum of Natural History,” the Olsons said in a press release from UWSP. “We believe the museum is a great community asset, a valuable learning tool for children of all ages. With displays and exhibits focused on the natural history of Wisconsin and beyond, hands on activities, and special programs, it brings education, entertainment and smiles to all who visit. Importantly, the museum serves as a unique way to introduce and welcome UWSP to potential future Pointers and their families.”

Chancellor Thomas Gibson said the school was grateful for the donation, and the Olson’s willingness to help with a much-loved resource on the campus.

“Thanks to their generosity, we will soon see our museum exhibits return to offer community members of all ages insight into wildlife ecology, sustainability and our natural world,” Gibson said.

The funds will be used to continue renovations on the first floor A-wing of the Science Building. During this ongoing work, the museum has continued its commitment to education, offering Junior Scientists and Storytime programs for children since last fall.

Joshua Hagen, dean of the College of Letters and Science, said that the museum has been a vital part of UWSP for decades, drawing about 30,000 visitors to campus annually.

“We are thrilled to take this momentous step toward reopening and welcoming guests back to campus,” he said. “We are extremely honored and humbled by the outpouring of generosity and support expressed by Don and Judi Olson and many other friends of the museum through central Wisconsin and beyond.”

Learn more about the Olson Museum of Natural History and its community programs at www.uwsp.edu/cols/college-of-letters-and-science/museum/.