Doors Open Milwaukee is a two-day public celebration of Milwaukee’s art, architecture, culture and history. This event offers behind the scenes tours of more than 150 buildings throughout Milwaukee’s downtown and neighborhoods and in-depth tours led by community leaders. Doors Open sites include commercial properties, sacred spaces, apartment buildings, breweries, art galleries, community gardens and more stretching from downtown to the surrounding suburbs, and the neighborhoods between. The sixth-annual Doors Open Milwaukee, held on September 17 and 18, 2016, attracted more than 31,600 attendees who made 138,680 site visits to unique places throughout Milwaukee.

Historic Milwaukee is proud to share our decades of architecture and history expertise with a growing audience of curious Milwaukeeans and visitors through Doors Open. Doors Open was brought to Milwaukee by Historic Milwaukee tour guide and local librarian, George Wagner. Doors Open is part of the international Open House concept, and aligns with the mission of the Open House Worldwide movement to showcase outstanding architecture for all to experience. These initiatives invite everyone to explore and understand the value of a well-designed built environment. Doors Open Milwaukee is now the 4th most highly attended Open House-type event worldwide, following Chicago, London, and Toronto.

Doors Open Milwaukee’s 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

Gurda Doors Open

“Milwaukeeans spend most of our lives in a built environment that has been evolving for 175 years, but we rarely see more  than the facades. Once a year the doors open, and the treasures in our midst will be available for all to enjoy.”

—John Gurda, Milwaukee historian


“With Doors Open, Milwaukee extends an invitation to visit, explore and enjoy our city’s built environment.   Milwaukee is packed with great buildings that reveal aspects of our history, economy, and culture. Doors Open presents an opportunity to peek inside and satisfy your curiosity about notable locations. Join us to look at Milwaukee in an entirely new way.”

—Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee