As of Dec. 2020, the museum is closed. Its collection has been moved to the Cedarburg History Museum.
The Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear is strangely hidden in plain site. Two doors down from the Catholic Financial Life building and directly across Highway 43 from the Milwaukee Courthouse, the museum is incredibly easy to overlook. The museum was founded by Avrum Chudnow, a lifelong resident of Milwaukee. His family owned numerous businesses in the Milwaukee area. Though the years, Avrum couldn’t resist picking up bits of Americana that reminded him of his family businesses – dry goods, toys, clothing, medicine bottles, political pins and more. When his basement was full to overflowing with his collection, his wife firmly suggested he do something with it.
The museum is a lovely old house, which you can easily visit in an hour. Wander from room to room, admiring Chudnow’s collections set up to look like an old grocery, pharmacy, train station, and milliners shop. Rooms include a history of Milwaukee brewing and candy-making, a speak-easy and a tiny, perfect theater. There you can watch a short movie on Avrum Chudnow, followed by old Mickey Mouse cartoons. As you wander, be sure to look closely at the original house obscured by the displays. There is glossy woodwork, original leaded and stained glass windows, and fireplaces with shiny art and crafts era tilework. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and will be happy to sell you a vintage pack of candy “cigarettes.”