During the late 1990s a group of cultural anthropologists in Milwaukee, Wisconsin began meeting to discuss ways that they might make contributions to Milwaukee, using skills acquired through the study and practice of anthropology. These skills include cultural research, museum curation, cultural land-use, neighborhood oral histories, teaching, film-making, and other art forms. Other community activists, interested in the creative work done by anthropologists, began to join the group.
Urban Anthropology Inc. gradually developed out of these meetings, and incorporated in 1999. The organization achieved tax exempt status late during that year. Since 1999 over 200 members have joined the organization and have helped develop a series of programs of national and Wisconsin interest. In 2004, UrbAn began developing museums in Milwaukee, beginning with the Old South Side Settlement Museum at 707 W. Lincoln. The organization also developed 15 documentaries on local Milwaukee ethnic groups and neighborhoods, a local publishing company, books on Milwaukee, and a host of cultural programs for youth (see www.teacheraidsforkidsmilwaukee.com).