Kat Murrell

Milwaukee in Miniature delights in big ways

Ferdinand Aumueller's models of Milwaukee at the turn of the 20th century are now on display at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. Video by Garrett Katerzynske.

By - Jun 15th, 2012 04:00 am

The Milwaukee County Historical Society is housed in a gorgeous old building downtown. That is reason enough to visit, but the new exhibition opening this week immeasurably sweetens the deal. Milwaukee in Miniature offers a unique view of grand old buildings in our city at the turn of the 20th century.

The sixteen models on view were made between 1940 and 1950 by Ferdinand Aumueller, who took on the unique hobby of meticulously crafting models of Milwaukee’s downtown buildings. He captured their likenesses as they would have been seen from about the 1890s to 1910. Some structures will be very familiar to our modern eyes, but many offer a glimpse at a beautiful 19th-century city we scarcely see today.

These models had long been part of the Historical Society’s collection. Curator of Objects Mike Reuter developed the idea for these models as the centerpiece of an exhibition. Reuter explained, “I walk by the models every single day when I’m in the collection storage area, and it dawned on me to reintroduce them in a more innovative way with educational and interactive programming.”

Reuter and Amanda Koehler, the Society’s archivist, kindly took the TCD crew around as the exhibition was coming together in preparation for the opening reception. Koehler enthusiastically described the activities that will accompany the displays of the models. They include a place for drawing your favorite Milwaukee building, and a floor map of the city upon which visitors of all ages are invited to contribute their own LEGO building while LEGO KidsFest is happening around the corner at the Frontier Airlines Center. Photos of this ongoing project will be posted online so you can check out the changing contours of the city, rising brick by LEGO brick.

The exhibition runs through the end of the year, but Milwaukee in Miniature offers a perfect treat for summertime fun and history in the Cream City.

See the video below for an up-close look at Milwaukee in Miniature. For more TCD videos, visit our YouTube channel.

Milwaukee in Miniature opened with a reception on Thursday, June 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8.00 for the general public and free to members. The Milwaukee County Historical Society is located at 910 N. Old World Third Street.

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