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  • Milwaukee Public MuseumMilwaukee Public Museum Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    The Milwaukee Public Museum is the natural and human history museum in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin that was chartered in 1882 and opened in 1884, with three floors of displays and an IMAX theater that was the first one in the state. MPM is free to residents of the county on Mondays and to the jurors all the time. It entertains about 1 million visitors every year and is one of about six that were opened in that period of time in this country. It really began in 1851, when the German-English Academy opened, with the principal, Peter Engelmann exciting his students with field trips, who would then collect marvelous specimens of geological, organic and archaeological natures, which would then be preserved at the academy. Eventually, alumni and many others would donate different specimens of ethnological and historical interest to the growing collection. Within half a dozen years, the interest in that collection had increased so much so that Engelmann started organizing a natural history society to manage and increase the collection. Soon, it had grown to such an extent that it had to be considered a museum and needed a larger space to house it. August Stirn, member of the society and city alderman, was able to get legislation from the state for the city to accept the collection and take the necessary measures to create a free public museum. A board of trustees was created and it hired Carl Doerflinger to be the first director and rented space was acquired to show the collection and in May, 1884, the Milwaukee Public Museum opened. Carl would put special emphasis on the collection so that it could used for research and study, plus public education; until his resignation in 1888. Before leaving, he pleaded with the city to procure a permanent place for the collection and the public library, which was completed in 1898. In 1890, Carl Akeley, biologist and taxidermist, who had become known as the father of modern taxidermy, would be the first person to build a museum habitat diorama in the world, which consisted of a muskrat colony. Henry Ward became the director in 1902, and while it had always focused on natural sciences, Ward started a history museum. To increase this new venture, Samuel A. Barrett, first recipient of a doctorate in anthropology, from the University of California, was brought in to head the new anthropology-history department. After Ward left, Barrett took over and brought the museum through the Great Depression of the 1930s and he used the WPA and other new deal programs to keep the museum going and to increase the bare minimum staffing.  The museum contains both permanent and traveling or rotating exhibits, and the first main display to be finished was the Streets of Old Milwaukee, that opened in 1965, and has become one of the most popular exhibits in the museum. Besides that one, there are 16 others that include; Africa, Arctic, Asia, Bugs Alive, European village, Exploring Life on Earth, The Third Planet, Living Oceans, Temples, Tells & Tombs, North American Indians, South & Middle America, Pacific Islands, A Sense of Wonder, Pre-Columbian Americas, Rain Forest and the Puelicher Butterfly Wing. Research and collections include; the anthropology department with about 120,000 artifacts, Vertebrate zoology, the Botany department that includes a greenhouse on the roof, with a herbarium collection of more than 5000 specimens, the Conservation department, the Registration department for keeping the inventory, the Geology department with a great number of minerals, fossils and research staff, Invertebrate zoology, photograph collection with 6000 images from the Sumner W. Matteson Collection, 8000 from the Brandon DeCou collection and many photos of Wisconsin Indians taken by the staff, and a magnificent reference library of more than 100,000 volumes of natural history. 

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  • Charles Allis Art MuseumCharles Allis Art Museum Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    The Charles Allis house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and now contains the Charles Allis Art Museum, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The home was the residence of city native Charles Allis and his wife, Sarah, and Charles was the son of E. P. Allis, the first president of the Allis-Chalmers Corporation. Sarah (Ball) and Charles were married in 1877, and both of them became active in the community; Charles becoming one of the organizers of the Milwaukee Arts Society, as well as a trustee of the Layton Art Gallery and board member of many other arts and business institutions in the city. In 1918, Charles passed on, while he was the chairman of the Milwaukee County Council of Defense, and while both Sarah and Charles had been patrons of the arts, they were also responsible for many charitable acts that were outside the realm of the arts. Because of their involvement in the arts, they had amassed a spectacular collection, and were intending to donate the art, furnishings and house to the public to that they could be delighted, inspired and educated in the arts. Their house is a Tudor style from 1911 mansion with a Tudor rose theme that is exemplified in the inside and outside. It was one of the earliest designs by Milwaukee architect, Alexander Eschweiler and started out as an art library and was part of the Milwaukee County Public Library system from 1957 to 1978. The house was one of the first in the city to get electricity, and the walls were made of concrete to safeguard their collectibles from fire. The exterior is made of Ohio brick and trimmed in Lake Superior sandstone, with the interiors done in elaborate materials that was available at the time, like the Circassian walnut paneling in the French parlor room, as well as embossed and polychromed Lincrusta Walton wallpaper in many of the others. Almost every room has a hand-carved marble fireplace, with many variations of marble that was used through the house, like the Florido crème, Tavernelle Clair and Haueville Fleuri for the marble hall.

January 11, 2011