The Milwaukee County Historical Society launched its 2022 feature exhibit, “Milwaukee: Where the Waters Meet,” on January 13, showcasing the role that water played in the County’s foundation.
Water was central to brewing, tanning, and a number of other industries that helped the Milwaukee grow from a frontier village to the metropolis it is today. The exhibit also explores Milwaukee how established itself as a global freshwater center.
“A lot of people say that in the near future, water is going to be more precious than gold or any other mineral,” said Ben Barbera, Director of Collections and Exhibitions. “So learning today what we can do to protect that resource, and working with the Milwaukee community to do that is another thing this exhibit really wants to touch on and explore.”
Organized into several major themes including geography, commerce, Jones Island, recreation, water supply, wastewater, native and invasive species, and threats and solutions, the exhibit design consists of photos, text, hundreds of artifacts, and numerous interactive elements that help to educate and inform visitors.
“Milwaukee: Where the Waters Meet” originally launched in January 2021, but several new elements have been added to serve first time and returning visitors. New for 2022 are several child-friendly components, including an interactive Kids’ Path through the exhibit hosted by Gertie the Duck, with a learning and play area for children.
“For 2022, what we really wanted to do was enhance the exhibit with the an eye towards children and their experience. In a lot of ways the exhibit is kind of information heavy. And so we created an element that would help tell the story on a level that children enjoy,” added Barbera. “We created this path through the exhibit where they can use a RFID wristband to activate some stations. They will be guided through interesting points by Gertie the Duck, who has a long and illustrious history in Milwaukee.”
There are also new interactive elements and another series of virtual and in-person water-themed programs throughout the run of the exhibit.