Brown County Historical Society Museum exhibit opens June 1

The public is invited to visit the Brown County Historical Society Museum, 2 North Broadway Street in New Ulm, for the official opening of its exhibit “Wet Stills and Dry Agents: Brown County and the Prohibition Years” on Saturday, June 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free for the day.

The opening will feature entertainment inside the museum and Denis Warta will talk about the stories of Prohibition in New Ulm. There will also be vintage cars parked outside the museum, joined by the BCHS Popcorn Wagon serving fresh popcorn. The event is hosted by the Schell's Border Batch. The exhibit also features items from the collections of members of Schell's Border Batch.

At the turn of the 20th Century, many social reformers advocated for prohibition of alcohol, through legal restrictions or bans of alcoholic beverages. These reformers blamed alcohol for many of America’s evils and hoped that once alcoholic beverages were illegal, American society would be greatly improved. The 18th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution — that banned the brewing, selling, and transportation of alcoholic beverages — was ratified in 1919 through the efforts of these reformers. Thirteen years and eleven months later, Prohibition ended with the ratification of the 21st Amendment. Contrary to the desires of the reformers, the people who opposed Prohibition did not come to accept it, alcohol consumption decreased, but did not end, and crime did not disappear.

“Wet Stills and Dry Agents: Brown County and the Prohibition Years” highlights Brown County’s experiences during Prohibition. The exhibit discusses the attitudes of people in Brown County toward Prohibition, the effects it had on Brown County’s three operating breweries, and the ways in which people ignored or bypassed the 18th Amendment. In addition, visitors will learn how Prohibition was passed in a country that made, brewed, and distilled, hundreds of millions of gallons of wine, beer, and liquor.

This exhibit will be on display through May 2020, on the second floor of the Brown County Historical Society’s museum.