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Doors Open Milwaukee Goes Virtual With Online Building Tours And Neighborhood Activity Book

Historic Milwaukee, Inc / YouTube
Doors Open Milwaukee is offering virtual building tours and has put together a neighborhood activity guide to encourage people to engage with Milwaukee in a safe and distant way.

Historic Milwaukee’s Doors Open event is usually one of the most popular fall activities in the city. It allows people to explore sites and buildings normally off limits to the public. But with the coronavirus pandemic, the organization had to go virtual.

Starting Saturday, the 10th annual Doors Open will offer more than 80 Milwaukee building tours through photos, videos, and 360 virtual reality. This year’s event also features a downloadable neighborhood activity book designed by artist CK Ledesma available in English and Spanish.

Grace Fuhr, the events director for Doors Open, says that despite the new challenges, Historic Milwaukee still wants to offer a robust program.

“Doors Open is by far our largest event that takes place every year. And so it’s been a really great challenge and interesting to wrap our heads around new ways for people to interact with Milwaukee buildings without going to them physically,” says Fuhr.

Credit Courtesy of Doors Open Milwaukee
A page from CK Ledesma's neighborhood activity guide created for Doors Open Milwaukee.

For Ledesma, the process began by reaching out to people in Milwaukee neighborhoods and asking them what about their community should be highlighted.

“It’s been interesting to see how diverse and how we can experience different locations in different levels. Not just within the built landscape but also the culinary landscape and also the storytelling landscape of the city,” he says.

This led to each neighborhood focusing their answers on different aspects, creating variation in the activity book, including when it comes to language. Making the book available in more than just English was important to Ledesma. He's originally from Puerto Rico and he wanted Spanish speakers to feel included in this exploration of the city.

Although Doors Open will not bring people together physically, Fuhr hopes that this virtual and distant event will help bring new people who normally could not participate.

Doors Open will officially open at 12 p.m. on Saturday with the ringing of the city hall bell tower on Facebook Live.

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.