In Arts & Entertainment

MCHS marks the drying out of America with a new exhibition. (PHOTO: MCHS)

Historical Society taps into Prohibition history to mark dry centennial

Milwaukee County Historical Society, which has a pretty impressive beeriana collection and also runs Brew City MKE, a Milwaukee beer museum and tavern at the former Shops of Grand Avenue, launches a new exhibition next week.

"How Dry I Am: Prohibition Milwaukee" opens Wednesday, Jan. 16 at the society's Marquette Park Historical Center, 910 N. Old World 3rd St., offering an interactive exploration of what Prohibition meant in a city that beer made famous.

The show which runs through May 4 opens on the 100th anniversary that the 18th Amendment was passed by the number of states (36) required to pass a constitutional amendment. The law went into effect one year and one day later.

"The Society chooses a topic each year to explore that has broad interest to the public and with the 100th anniversary of Prohibition, it is the perfect time to look back," said MCHS Executive Director Mame McCully, in a statement.

The new exhibit explores the push for the amendment and what followed its passing. Included are objects, photographs and interactives from the MCHS collection, as well as from partners like The Pabst Mansion and from private collectors, too.

"This exhibit offers visitors a really interesting look at that this unique and pivotal period in history through a Milwaukee lens, said Curator Ben Barbera.

"It is exciting to show the full story of Prohibition, as well as allow people to compare the challenges and opportunities of the 1920s with those that we see today."

The exhibit will explore a baker's dozen years of Prohibition through artifacts, images, and interactive components. Items rarely seen, those from partner organizations such as The Pabst Mansion, and artifacts from private collections will be featured.

There will be a recreated speakeasy with a secure entrance and a virtual bartender, a digital dance instructor teaching visitors how to do the Charleston and other historic "scenes" that guests can enter

As always, a range of programming including a Jan. 23 talk by John Gurda accompanies the exhibition.

The show opens two days before the official launch event of Milwaukee Museum Week in which MCHS is a participant which runs Jan. 21-27. Details of that debut event can be found here.

For more information on "How Dry I Am: Prohibition Milwaukee," visit


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