MIR on display in Wisconsin Dells.

MIR Space Station

Field review by the editors.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

The MIR Space Station is displayed in a place that was once named Tommy Bartlett's Robot World, when it opened in 1982. Now it's named Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, the robots are gone, and it's been remodeled as a touchy-feely kids' science center with a Van de Graaff generator and a "Shadow Room" where you can leave your shadow on a wall, just as if you'd been vaporized in a nuclear blast (that isn't suggested here, but it's how we see it). Before billionaire Bartlett -- who made his fortune staging water-ski shows -- died in 1998, he paid (according to some accounts) $1 million in cash for Russia's spare MIR space station, and brought it here as a tourist attraction.

Three MIRs were built. One is locked away in a warehouse somewhere in Russia, one burned up when it fell out of orbit in 2001, and then there's this one. It's 43 feet long, weighs over 20 tons, and includes everything necessary for stylish Russian outer-space living, including carpeted floors and a toilet.

Displayed next to MIR is an exact replica of Sputnik, which the cash-strapped Russians possibly threw in to sweeten the deal. It's appropriate, as a Sputnik once crashed into Wisconsin.

MIR Space Station

Tommy Bartlett Exploratory

Address:
560 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy., Wisconsin Dells, WI
Directions:
At the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory. I-90/94 exit 89. East on Hwy 23/Munroe Ave for one-half mile, then north on US 12/Wisconsin Dells Parkway for one-half mile.
Hours:
Daily 9 am - 9 pm, off-season 10 am - 4 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
608-254-2525
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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