EAGLE - A
history buff from his early years growing up in western
Pennsylvania, Daniel J. Freas, 56, worked at museums and
historic sites in five states before coming to Wisconsin.
interest in history never slowed down over the years, as he
joined Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor ethic museum, as its
director in 2012.
museum, located at W372 S9727 Highway 67 in Eagle, didn't
slowed down once Freas took the reigns and is celebrating its
40th anniversary this weekend. Freas, who resides north of
Elkhorn, answered a few questions from TimeOut via email.
prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary this weekend, Freas,
who resides north of Elkhorn, answered a few questions from
TimeOut via email.
are some things that make Old World Wisconsin special or
A: I think
people who live in southeastern Wisconsin would be surprised
to learn that Old World Wisconsin was ranked among the top 10
living history designations in the United States by two
national publications last year.
experiences that are truly unique, interactive and fun for all
ages. Our guests help with farm chores, ride replica 1880s
bicycles and shop in the general store. It's these immersive
experiences that make you feel that you have traveled back in
time and help make the Old World Wisconsin experience truly
special and unique.
should people consider the museum a must-see?
the increased emphasis on interactivity, I would say Old World
Wisconsin is a must-do! Our goal is to tell (19th and early
20th century immigrants’ stories so as to) engage our guests
of all ages in entertaining ways.
our guests have many options for how they spend their time and
money for leisure activities. So, we are crafting a day-long
visit filled with a variety of experiences that are fun,
authentic, memorable and unplugged. We are increasingly seen
as a fun escape from daily routines and modern technology.
Q: With it
being the 40th anniversary, is there anything new at Old World
year, we launched an opportunity for guests to purchase
historic coins with their admission ticket and spend them on
select merchandise in our 1880s village general store. This
was so popular that we have expanded this year to include
using the coins to buy an authentic soda water in the taproom
of the Village Inn. The soda waters are mixed by hand and
served in a souvenir acrylic.
on the beverage theme, we have partnered with the Museum of
Beer and Brewing in Milwaukee to start a historic beer-brewing
program this season in our German area. The goal of the
exhibit is to recreate the processes used by Wisconsin brewers
in the mid-19th century. We are currently growing heirloom
varieties of hops and barley to use in the brewing process.
Brewing dates include Saturday, July 4, August 13, September
17 and October 8. A traditional Oktoberfest will be held as a
special evening event on September 17.
World’s historic gardens are also a very popular part of our
overall guest experience. Due to this interest, as well as the
popularity of gardening in general, we are hosting an Heirloom
Garden Weekend August 20-21. The weekend will include
speakers, mini-workshops and garden walks where guests can
learn about gardening practices of early immigrant settlers
and get tips for growing heirloom plants at home.
there any changes in store for the future of Old World
A: We are
in the process of designing new experiences that create
opportunities for hands-on engagement, as well as new
performance-based programming that will engage our guests on
an emotional level. There will continue to be an increased
emphasis on learning through hands-on exploration, including
future interactive exhibits that focus on historic technology
and how buildings were constructed. People can learn more
about initiatives, as details are ready to be released, by
following us on Facebook.
Wisconsin promises “a weekend of special programming”
Saturday and Sunday. “Folk music, dancing, hands-on
activities and a big cake,” are all planned, according to
the museum's website. Visitors will be able to take farm and
garden tours, as well as nature hikes. For more information,
go to www.oldworldwisconsin.org.