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Smack-dab in America’s heartland may seem like an unlikely spot for a piece of Russian space hardware and a replica of an American space capsule. But this is Wisconsin Dells, so what better place than the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory - Interactive Science Center to exhibit such finds. There's the 43-foot-long MIR core module, acquired from a Moscow museum in need of money. It is one of only three made by the Russians. One of the other two is warehoused in Russia and not on public display. The most famous MIR module once orbited Earth as part of the MIR Space Station. It disintegrated in 2001 as it passed through the atmosphere in a calculated de-orbiting process. That leaves the Exploratory’s MIR as the only such exhibit on earth where visitors can step inside and experience the module that served as the heart of the famous MIR space program. There is also is a full-size replica of the Mercury Space Capsule, once destined for the Kennedy Space Center but it landed in Wisconsin Dells instead.
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Anyone who claims to be a collector will be humbled by the eccentricity and sheer volume of collections assembled at The House on the Rock in nearby Spring Green. Built in the 1940s by Alex Jordan, a collector all his life, the 14 rooms of the house are chock full of collectibles, including suits of armor, dollhouses, model airplanes, circus memorabilia, oriental porcelain vases, royal tiaras, rare books, music machines, and that’s just a partial list. One of the most popular pieces there is a carousel, the largest in the world, with 269 handcrafted carousel animals, not one of them a horse. The carousel stands 35 feet tall, 80 feet wide and weighs 35 tons. It is valued at nearly $4.5 million. The architecture is also something to behold. The house is perched on a 60-foot chimney of rock with breathtaking views to the forest valley below.
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