By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Dec 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Until yesterday, it had been a while since I visited the Milwaukee County Historical Society. But now that I work Downtown again, I'm pledging to come back more frequently.

You should, too.

I stopped in to check out an exhibit called "Milwaukee in Miniature," which is a collection of the dioramas of Ferdinand Aumueller. These scale models depict Milwaukee landmarks as they were in the early 1900s, and the accompanying photos shows the buildings then and now. It's a fascinating look of the artist's work that he started in 1967. The free exhibit runs through January.

But there's so much more, too.

Once upon a time, I used to check out the society's photo gallery and records library. I found immigration papers for my great-grandparents and photos of the building where my grandparents met.

Yesterday, I spent some time looking at a whimsical painting of 1840s Milwaukee and learned a thing or two about Lake Emily, a four-foot deep lake that apparently still exists under NML headquarters. I had no idea.

I like the the Historical Society because it's free and quiet and usually empty and gives you a chance to investigate on your own. The miniature exhibit, for example, is neat because it puts buildings I've seen in photos into colorful, three-dimensional models. For me, anyway, it adds to my understanding of "old Milwaukee" when I can visualize these landmarks in this way.

In 2013, I'll make a point to visit more often. Hope to see you there.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.