This month, we take a closer look at Black history in Milwaukee.
Explore our resources below, plus additional programming!
At the Museum
Educators will be available for interactive programming Thursdays and Fridays in February from 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Milwaukee’s Civil Rights History
Milwaukee has a rich history of militant, principled struggles for racial justice. Use our timeline challenge to learn more about the tactics, timing, and outcomes of these local efforts to create an equitable future.
Meet the Watsons
Sully and Susanna Watson took their family from the oppressive conditions of antebellum Virginia in 1834 and, after several years in Ohio, arrived in Milwaukee in 1850. Through skilled labor and business entrepreneurship, the couple played a vital role in establishing Milwaukee’s Black middle class. Explore Watson's family history through images that illustrate this vibrant era in the city’s Black heritage.
Meet on the Third Floor, Saturdays throughout February at 11:00 a.m.
Capacity is 25 visitors; reservations onsite or by calling 414-278-2728 are strongly recommended.
Women Artisans of Africa
Learn about the amazing variety of crafts done by women throughout Africa, and how they keep their culture flourishing.
Each month, we’ll encourage visitors to look a little deeper at one or our exhibits through in-depth signage and a QR code to our website.
If you visit us this month, you may see this signage on the Third Floor by the Africa gallery. There, we encourage our visitors to “get curious” about the history, creation, and traditions surrounding kente cloth.
Kente cloth is traditionally made of silk or cotton. The dye for the threads can be made locally by grinding the bark or leaves of trees. Today, commercially produced fabric and dye is often used because of the cheaper price and convenience.
Kente is woven on a narrow loom into long strips of fabric about four to eight inches wide. The fabric is then cut into pieces which are then sewn together to form the cloth. The patterns are created by the warp (the pattern that runs lengthwise, with threads attached to the loom before weaving starts) and the weft (the threads the weaver passes through the warp).
- The design and cloth as a whole often convey a specific meaning, while each color tells its own story:
- Yellow and gold represent wealth, royalty, and fertility
- Blue is for love, peace, and harmony
- Green represents land and vegetation, and growth and energy
- Red means passion, death, or violence
- Pink and purple represent femininity
- White can mean healing, purity, or victory
- Black represents spiritual strength and maturity
- Art from all over the world can be found throughout the exhibits at the MPM. Over time, some artistic styles and creations change. Others stay the same but take on new meanings with the perspectives of each generation. The Museum is a great place to start appreciating artistic expressions from many communities, but we can only serve as a beginning. If you find a piece of art in the exhibits that speaks to you and want to learn more about its meanings, consider looking for additional reliable sources, especially sources created by the artists and their communities.
SPECIAL EXHIBIT PROGRAMS
Our newest special exhibit, Survival of the Slowest, arrives February 11, 2023! Check out our fun events in conjunction with this exhibit.
Romancing the Stars! Valentine Stargazing
During this special Valentine's Day program at the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium, take a romantic tour of the universe to explore the magic of night and constellations of love. Attendees will receive a red rose and box of chocolates to complete their perfect evening.
Add on a Love & Heartbreak tour to learn the science behind love! The Love & Heartbreak tour is a special 45-minute edition of our MPM Exposed tour. Hear stories of love, heartbreak, and weird mating habits of the animal kingdom. Play matchmaker with our exhibits, be thankful you aren't an angler fish, and get the science behind love. Love & Heartbreak tours must be taken on the same day as as your Romancing the Stars reservation.
Dates and Times
Saturday, February 11, 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 14, 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.
Cost and Tickets
$25 per couple ($12.50 per person)
Can't make it to MPM? Missed us on the floors? Watch our video instead!
Sully and Susanna Watson took their family from the oppressive conditions of antebellum Virginia in 1834 and, after several years in Ohio, arrived in Milwaukee in 1850. Through skilled labor and business entrepreneurship, the couple played a vital role in establishing Milwaukee’s black middle class. Explore Watson's family history through images that illustrate this vibrant era in the city’s black heritage.
Dr. James Cameron Pamphlet Collection
The Milwaukee Public Library’s Dr. James Cameron Pamphlet Collection is made up of 38 self-published pamphlets by Civil Rights Activist Dr. James Cameron (1914-2006). Dr. Cameron was the only known survivor of a lynching and the founder of the America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, WI. A self-taught historian and lecturer, Cameron devoted his life to raising Americans’ consciousness and conscience about the legacy of slavery and educating the public about the injustices suffered by people of African descent in America. Topics addressed in the pamphlets include slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, lynching, the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil Rights, and Milwaukee police/community relations. These pamphlets provide a unique perspective of American history and an unabashed critique of the social issues of the day.
Want to learn more about this month's theme? Milwaukee Public Library has put together a list of recommended reading for both children and adults!