Streets of Old Milwaukee

The Streets of Old Milwaukee was originally opened in January 1965. This exhibit created one of the first walk-through dioramas in the world, transporting the visitor back to a fall evening in Milwaukee at the turn of the 19th century. It was an immediate hit and continues to be the most visited spot in the Museum. In honor of the Streets 50th anniversary, the exhibit was reimagined by further incorporating themed storytelling and a heightened sensory experience to give the visitor a different perspective on every visit.

The Streets boasts a life-sized street car entrance that, through clever use of technology, transports the visitor on a journey back in time to Milwaukee's yesteryear, exiting into a courtyard highlighting some of Milwaukee's industrialized businesses. Museum-goers can stroll down the darkened, gaslit lanes, peer into the windows of some thirty shops, businesses, eating and drinking establishments, and pay their respects to Granny patiently rocking on the front porch of one of two residences to grace the Streets (the other being the Watson Family Home, a tribute to one of Milwaukee's first prominent African American families).

Buildings in the Streets of Old Milwaukee are represented at about three-quarters size or less. The Streets are constructed from three different styles of paving: granite blocks originally from Buffalo Street, red bricks, and cedar blocks. In addition to the artifacts from the museum's own collections, the Streets contain extensive materials generously donated by the community. Some of these objects, resident app tour guides, silent films, and soundscapes will change with themed storytelling, refreshing the exhibit with a new perspective, periodically. 

New Streets Theme

The Streets, which highlighted entertainment in Milwaukee since its reopening in December 2015, has turned its focus to public health.

Public Health Theme App Characters: Georges Aubert, Margaretha Jenssen, and Wilhelm Wenzel

New App Adventure:The Streets< app also includes a choose-your-own-adventure scavenger hunt with Harry Houdini to give visitors a chance to change the course of the story you are participating in. 

Download the FREE Streets of Old Milwaukee Tour App

The Streets of Old Milwaukee app is designed to further immerse the visitor into life in Milwaukee during the turn of the 19th century. Smartphone users can download the free app and pick a Streets resident to be their tour guide as they stroll the cobblestone streets of Milwaukee’s most beloved exhibit. The app uses innovative bluetooth based beacon technology to transmit where the visitor is in the exhibit, allowing the tour guide to give the visitor specific information about a storefront, historical object or event.

Best experienced with headphones.

Requires an iPhone 4s or newer, or an Android OS 4.3 device or newer with Bluetooth LE.




Presenting Sponsor

Rexnord Foundation, represented as The Falk Company

Major Sponsors

Balistreri Owned & Operated Sendik’s Food Markets

Bliffert Lumber and Hardware, represented as North Side Lumber & Fuel Company

Badger Meter

We Energies Foundation, represented as The Milwaukee Gaslight Company