15 lesser-known museums in and around Milwaukee By Tyler Maas
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Known to many as the “City Of Festivals,” Milwaukee could just as easily be called “City Of Museums.” Tourists and locals alike flock to the nationally-renowned Milwaukee Art Museum to check out the destination’s impressive and ever-changing collection. Similarly, Milwaukee Public Museum has entertained and informed downtown visitors with its eclectic exhibits and The Streets Of Old Milwaukee for generations. The Harley-Davidson Museum has given riders and other bike enthusiasts a lesson on one of Milwaukee’s best-known products in its gorgeous facility for that last 10 years. America’s Black Holocaust Museum will soon shed new light on important social issues that are still being felt in the country today when it re-opens in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
While the city boasts those top-tier museums, Milwaukee and its surrounding cities also offers a vast array of collections that celebrate and document a wide range of topics and a variety of different cultures. From a Bobblehead Hall Of Fame in the Third Ward and a beer museum (with a fully-operational bar) in The Shops Of Grand Avenue to a railroad club in New Berlin and an informative way to kill time at General Mitchell International Airport, here are 15 lesser-known museums located in or around Milwaukee.
1. Brew City MKE
While we never got the opportunity to say goodbye to the Applebee’s in The Shops Of Grand Avenue, its spirit now lives on with Brew City MKE. Last year, Milwaukee County Historical Society took over the space in the mall where people once ate good in the neighborhood, and they’ve since made the space into a full-fledged beer museum. Brew City MKE features vintage brewery ads and photography, old bottles and other artifacts and—best yet—a beer bar that’s stocked with an impressive selection of local beer. Tours are $10 ($7 for visitors 13-20 and free for children) and include a beer or soda. If you’re not feeling a tour and just want a drink in the mall, there’s no cost to skip the museum and just enter the bar.
2. Chudnow Museum Of Yesteryear
Just west of downtown and the interstate sits a strange, nondescript portal to another time. Formerly used as the office of Milwaukee lawyer and antique collector Avrum Chudnow, the understated 11th Street property eventually became a place for the Americana enthusiast to store some of his acquisitions. In 2012, seven years after his death, the public was invited to look at Avrum’s things at what was dubbed Chudnow Museum Of Yesteryear. The varied collection is organized into a series of period-themed settings. There’s a drug store, a grocery store, a “Wonderland Park” malt shop (with old time sodas for sale), a hardware store, a train depot, a doctor’s office, a small movie house that screens historical shorts and old cartoons on a loop, and even a secret speakeasy (if you can find it). Admission is $6 ($5 for kids 7-13, free for kids 6 or younger) and there’s no place quite like it.