Timeline of MPM Volunteers

  • 1851: Peter Engelmann begins the German-American Academy, which involved field trips for the students to collect plant, animal, geological, and archaeological specimens for display at the school.
  • 1857: Men interested in the collections of the German-American Academy create the Naturhistorischen Verein von Wisconsin to oversee the preservation and classifications of the materials and specimens. These are the first volunteers of what would become MPM.
  • 1882: Milwaukee Public Museum is officially incorporated and the first Board of Trustees, a group of volunteers, is organized. Carl Doerflinger, a former volunteer, was elected as the first "Custodian" of the Museum, with a salary of $1,500.
  • 1898: For 10 months, the collections of MPM were moved to their new home at what is now the Milwaukee Public Library. Much of this enormous task was accomplished by volunteers, whose names were left undocumented during the project.
  • 1941: Edith Quade begins her career at MPM as "Temporary Museum Assistant" to eventual Education Director in 1959. She would become highly influential in developing the volunteer program at MPM.
  • 1959: “Friends of the Museum” became separately administered from the trustees and ran as a fundraising “booster” group for the Museum. It was a volunteer support organization, and predominantly a male organization. Wives from this group jokingly called themselves "WOFs," or “Wives of Friends.”
  • 1961: The WOFs become the WOOFs (Women’s Organization of Friends). Original membership was Jean Lindemann, Pat Shaw, Lois Usinger, and Peg Nelson. By the end of 1961, it had 20 members. In this year, they logged approximately 425 hours of service, primarily behind the scenes, cataloging, indexing, and identifying items in a variety of history collections.
  • 1969: The Muses is the first fully volunteer-run organization at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
  • 1970s: The Arctic, Africa, Central American, and Southwest Native American exhibits were the result of Friends of the Museum sponsored research trips (fully sponsored exhibit by exhibit).
  • 1977: Muses sponsor “Vision Quest ‘77” selected 20 Milwaukee County High School students to learn about Botany and our Environment through field study and research.
  • 1985: The Wizard Wing opens. This was funded largely through FOM and staffed by volunteers.
  • 1986: First Jean Lindemann Award given to volunteer Marie Grayer.
  • 1988: Jean retires as Executive Director of Friends of the Museum.
  • 1995: Clue Crew is begun by a group of docents working with the Membership Department.
  • 1996: The first Halloween Hauntings is celebrated. Since its inception, this event has used over 100 volunteers each year to support all things Halloween!
  • 1997: Butterflies Alive! exhibit opens, which becomes a favorite of MPM volunteers.
  • 1999: Friends of MPM celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
  • 2006: The docents plan and host the first ever Streets of Old Milwaukee Alive! and European Village Alive!   Holiday Traditions,  which continue today; MPM unveils Samson Remembered exhibit, developed with much support and many photographs and memorabilia  of 10-year docent Sam LaMalfa, Primate Supervisor at the Milwaukee County Zoo while Samson was alive.
  • 2007: Volunteers support the Botany Department’s year-long rehousing of 30,000 non-vascular plant specimens.
  • 2009: Docents volunteer hundreds of hours in costume during Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit.
  • 2016: October 7, 2016 is decreed Brian Glenn Day by Mayor Tom Barrett in celebration of his years of volunteering, including 30 years  of “exemplary” volunteering at the Milwaukee Public Museum;  Volunteers begin a new role at MPM digitizing collections, which  has supported the development of better records for over 30,000 specimens, moving us ever-closer to the goal of sharing our collections with as many people as possible.