The Milwaukee County Historical Society has been no exception to the list of statewide closures due to the efforts aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, but MCHS saw it as an opportunity expand into digital tourism.
Where many institutions might see challenges in presenting their content in a digital format, MCHS looked for a way to bring their 2020 feature exhibit, “Revealed: Milwaukee’s Unseen Treasures,” to a sheltered public. That creative spark allowed for the development of short videos that would expand on the artifacts presented in the exhibit.
“We thought it would be a shame if all the amazing work our curator Ben Barbera put into the exhibit was not able to be viewed by the public,” said Mame McCully, Executive Director of MCHS, “Through these videos, the public will not only get to see the exhibit through a distinct lens, but they can learn about Milwaukee’s history wherever they may be.”
This first episode launched on March 25 and tells the tragic story of Fred C. Miller. Miller was the grandson of famed beer baron Frederick Miller, who became Miller Brewing president in 1947. A mover and shaker in his time, Miller was killed in a plane crash in 1947. A portion of the plane’s wreckage is on display in the exhibit and is generously on loan from the MolsonCoors Corporate Archive.
The video series was produced and narrated by MCHS Programs Fellow, John Harry. A history graduate student at UW-Milwaukee, Harry enjoyed a ten-year career as a radio personality prior to attending graduate school. It is the skills of his previous career in digital content production that are in demand as the physical closure of MCHS meant rethinking how the Society delivers content to the public.
“To be able to survive this crisis as a small non-profit will require some ‘outside the box’ type of thinking, and I’m thankful that MCHS leadership has allowed me to contribute in such a meaningful way,” said Harry.
The second video was released on March 28, and features the A.O. Smith Flyer. Nicknamed the “Red Bug” it was made in Milwaukee and has the distinction of being the least expensive automobile ever manufactured in the United States. A new video segment will be released each Sunday.