In honor of its 50th anniversary, The Milwaukee Public Museum will be reimagining its beloved exhibit, the Streets of Old Milwaukee.

“Most exhibits showcase history,” said Dennis Kois, President and CEO, MPM. “Streets has become part of Milwaukee’s history. We’re very excited to build on that history by implementing changes that will enhance not only the Streets themselves, but deliver the kind of immersive visitor experience contemporary museum-goers expect.”

Streets opened in January 1965, under the direction of then-Director Carl Borhegyi, who was inspired by a 19th century barbershop and drugstore exhibit. MPM Exhibits Director Edward Green designed the original exhibit to transport the visitor back to a fall evening at the turn of the century. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the MPM exhibits team raises the bar further by providing visitors with a heightened sensory experience including new soundscapes, “secrets” to discover, sights and even smells, as well as the integration of cutting-edge technology to engage audiences.

“Milwaukee Public Museum has a history of building world-class, innovative exhibits,” said Julian Jackson, Exhibit Director, MPM. “We’re building on the shoulders of giants, here. Carl Akeley created the very first habitat-style diorama here in 1889. The Indian Crow Bison Hunt was the largest open diorama in the world when it opened in November 1966. The re-imagination of Streets will live up to and build upon that level of quality.”

Visitors will enter the Streets via a new life-sized street car that will appear, through clever use of technology, to transport them back in time to Milwaukee’s yesteryear. From viewing new storefronts and businesses to eavesdropping on conversations between Streets residents to engaging in hands-on activities, the reimagintion of the Streets of Old Milwaukee brings the cultural and economic changes taking place in Milwaukee during the post-Industrial Revolution era to life.

For the first time, visitors will be invited to learn the stories of some of the residents of Streets. Historically accurate fictional figures will share anecdotes on the issues of the day in entertainment, immigration, public health or public safety. A variety of diverse characters will be created, and alternated twice a year, to create a unique experience for every visit.

“The Streets of Old Milwaukee is probably the most popular exhibit in Wisconsin, and is certainly so for residents of Milwaukee,” said Kois. “The renovation of Streets gives us an incredible
opportunity to both enrich the experience already there by taking visitors deeper into the magical experience of going back in time, but also to weave into that experience the viewpoints of people who were living in the city at that time, but whose voices were left out.”

The Streets of Old Milwaukee will reopen on December 11, 2015.

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