Milwaukee Art Museum
Press Release

Highly Anticipated Opening of Milwaukee Art Museum’s Renovated Collection Galleries Set for November 24

Restored, Reinstalled, and Reimagined Museum Delivers a New Future for the Iconic Milwaukee Institution and a Visitor Experience to Match the New Space

By - Nov 18th, 2015 01:37 pm
Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Milwaukee Art Museum.

Milwaukee, Wis.—The Milwaukee Art Museum, the largest visual art institution in Wisconsin and one of the oldest art museums in the nation, will reopen its Collection Galleries to the public November 24. The reopening is the culmination of a 6-year, $34 million project to transform the visitor experience through dramatically enhanced exhibition and public spaces and bright, flowing galleries.

“The new Milwaukee Art Museum is poised to set the standard for a twenty-first-century museum at the heart of a great city,” said Museum Director Daniel Keegan. “What began as a desire to preserve the space and Collection grew into a significant expansion that rejuvenates and sets the future course for the entire institution.”

The project is part of a historic public-private partnership with Milwaukee County, which owns the buildings and provided $10 million toward the renovation, with the remaining $24 million raised through the Museum’s Plan for the Future campaign. It’s the first major reimagining of the Museum’s extensive Collection areas, including the Museum’s 1957 Eero Saarinen-designed War Memorial Center and 1975 David Kahler-designed addition.

While addressing critical infrastructure upgrades, the renovation creates an intuitive and welcoming visitor experience to showcase the Museum’s world-class Collection. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s renovated Collection Galleries and new east entrance now span 150,000 square feet. Within this space, the Museum is installing 2,500 works of art—almost 1,000 more than have been on view at one time in the past—from its rich Collection of 30,000 works.

“Pieces that haven’t been on view for decades are back again, alongside new acquisitions and old favorites,” said Keegan. “Add to that new public gathering spaces with breathtaking views. We simply can’t wait to share the new Museum with our community and visitors. This space is now worthy of the Collection their support has helped us build over our 125-year history.”

The expansion also allows for more comprehensive displays from the Museum collections—including the full story of American art from colonial times to the present day—and for experimental and rotating gallery spaces. The Museum will debut its first spaces devoted exclusively to 20th- and 21st-century design. In addition, the Bradley Family Gallery, a new changing exhibition space, doubles the Museum’s capacity for special exhibitions. The inaugural exhibition in this space is Sam Francis: Master Printmaker, opening November 24 and sponsored by Sendik’s Food Market.

As part of the opening the Museum will unveil the 10,000-square-foot Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts. Unparalleled in size and scope for a regional museum, this is the first time the Museum has dedicated significant permanent collection and gallery space to photography, video and light based media.

“The Milwaukee Art Museum was one of the first major museums to start collecting photography in the 1950s,” said Keegan. “The Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts continues the Museum’s tradition of leadership and establishes it as a national destination for this type of artwork.”

New spaces for families offer unique interactive experiences and hands-on activities. The Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery: Rubbish! allows kids to explore how artists have turned trash into treasure, and the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab is a space to learn about the art and culture of Haiti.

Other features and enhancements include: improved wayfinding, rewritten gallery labels and restrooms on every level; a new entrance along the Lake Michigan waterfront that connects the Museum to the popular pedestrian lakefront path; a coffee and wine bar with European style small plates; and glass walls offering panoramic views of both the lake and the Museum’s iconic Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion.

A series of special events leading up to and following the public opening on November 24 will commemorate the unveiling of the new Milwaukee Art Museum, including:

  • Friday, Nov. 20:A special members’ only preview during MAM After Dark (Join the Museum as a new member and get 50% off courtesy of Kohl’s)
  • Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21-22: Members Only Grand Unveiling Weekend Celebration, sponsored by Kohl’s Department Stores (Join as a new member during this preview weekend and get 50% off a membership courtesy of Kohl’s)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 24: Ribbon cutting and public grand opening (regular hours and admission apply; kids ages 12 and under are always free)
  • Thursday, Dec. 3: Visitors enjoy free admission on Meijer Free First Thursday (Museum open until 8 p.m.)
  • Sunday, Dec. 6: Kohl’s Community Free Day with interactive art activities, performances, music and more, including a community mural that will allow families to leave their mark on the renovated Museum (Join the Museum and get 50% off courtesy of Kohl’s)
  • Saturdays December through February: Sendik’s Shopper Saturday offering half off adult admission with a Sendik’s receipt

About the Milwaukee Art Museum

Home to a rich collection of over 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shore of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, and the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center.

With a history dating back to 1888, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Collection includes nearly 30,000 works from antiquity to the present, encompassing painting, drawing, sculpture, decorative arts, prints, video art and installations, and textiles. The Museum’s collections of American decorative arts, German Expressionist prints and paintings, 19th-century German painting and decorative arts, folk and Haitian art, and American art after 1960 are among the nation’s finest. It also holds one of the nation’s largest collections of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. Among its most famous works are Pablo Picasso’s The Cock of the Liberation and Gustave Caillebotte’s Boating on the Yerres.

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