The 10th annual Doors Open 2020 took place virtually from September 26 - October 11.

When we decided to offer our annual Doors Open program virtually, we didn’t know exactly what to expect. While we were not able to gather in person this year, we are proud to share that this program achieved our goal of celebrating Milwaukee’s architecture, history, and neighborhoods!

Doors Open Milwaukee strives to achieve the following goals:

  • Showcase the architecture and community stories of Milwaukee’s downtown and culturally diverse neighborhoods
  • Raise awareness of the critical role design plays in a vibrant and livable city
  • Welcome exploration and improve perception of new neighborhoods
  • Foster pride in Milwaukee and the built environment

During the 16 days of the virtual Doors Open program, 6,352 attended virtual events offered as part of Doors Open, 4,200 viewed Doors Open content on our YouTube channel, and 16,418 took virtual tours on the Doors Open website. This is a total of 26,970 visitors.

Outcomes from our online attendee survey show that:

  • 60% of attendees visited or learned about a neighborhood they were unfamiliar with before Doors Open
  • 65% said their opinion of the neighborhood improved as a result of Doors Open
  • 43% said they are likely and 28% said they are very likely to visit the neighborhood in the future
  • 93% of attendees rated Doors Open very good or excellent

While we did not open buildings physically for the public to visit this year, we were able to share Milwaukee’s architecture and neighborhoods virtually with the following programs:

Website tours: We wound up with 85 online building tours featuring commercial buildings, art galleries, theaters, urban gardens, and more throughout Milwaukee’s downtown and neighborhoods.

Video Neighborhood tours: We produced three video neighborhood tours featuring residents, artists, businesses, and organizations in the Lindsay Heights, Clarke Square, and Havenwoods neighborhoods. These video tours premiered on Historic Milwaukee’s YouTube channel and are still available to view on-demand.

Self-Guided Neighborhood Activities: We published a pdf booklet that offered activities featuring 16 Milwaukee neighborhoods. Booklet activities include crosswords, mazes, coloring pages, maps, poetry, and more. The booklet was available in English and Spanish and designed by artist Erick Ledesma. Along with the booklet, we created 16 neighborhood web pages describing the neighborhoods and offering suggestions for self guided tours. 680 website visitors downloaded the booklet and 7,282 viewed the neighborhood webpages pages. View the booklet here:, and the neighborhood pages here:

Art Activity: We worked with Artists Working in Education to offer a virtual art program led by Silver City's artist in resident, Sarah Gail Luther. Sarah’s virtual art activity encouraged participants to map, observe, and create based on the place they live, encouraging meaningful neighborhood exploration. 360 website visitors viewed this art activity. View the art activity here:

Musical Performances: Historic Milwaukee also partnered with Access Contemporary Music to produce a video featuring live musical performances at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Milwaukee’s City Hall. These performances are written by composers and performed by members of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. In addition to musical performances, the video featured interviews with Mayor Tom Barrett and the Wisconsin Black Historical Society's executive director Clayborn Benson, and artist statements with the composers. These performances would normally take place live during Doors Open. The advantage to this virtual version was a more complete story of the musical piece and the spaces where the performances took place. 883 website visitors viewed the performances online. View the performance here:

Neighborhoods virtual event: This year’s neighborhoods theme helped inspire a virtual program we offered in partnership with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service we called “Neighborhood Gems”. The program featured seven community leaders and artists including: Angelique Sharpe, manager of Villard Avenue BID #19; Camille Mays, founder of Peace Garden Project MKE; Amy Narr, owner of Triciclo Peru; Travis Hope and Alderman Jose Perez on the restoration of Pulaski Park; Familia de Arte representatives; and muralist Tia Richardson. 1,387 viewed this program on Zoom and Facebook live.

Jones Island 1,654
Bradley Symphony Center 1,028
Ambassador Hotel 1,006
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church 926
310W 819
We Energies Public Service Building 791
Johnson Controls Corporate Headquarters Building 786
20 Ton Studios 707
Dubbel Dutch Hotel 672
Basilica of St Josaphat 633
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block 626

“With all the uncertainty in the world today I am thankful that you
were still able to make this event happen virtually. This has opened
my eyes to how diverse and beautiful our city and surrounding areas
truly are.”