Milwaukee Museum Mile’s Grand Opening Sunday
This story introduced the first Museum Mile day in May of 2012. The 2013 edition is set for Sunday, May 5. Details here.
Five East Side museums have banded together, toward a goal of becoming a collective destination attraction.
On Sunday the five will throw a free inaugural event for the Milwaukee Museum Mile from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Charles Allis Museum, Villa Terrace, The Jewish Museum Milwaukee, the Museum of Wisconsin Art and the North Point Lighthouse will offer free admission, a free shuttle bus to all five attractions, activities at every site, refreshments, docent-led tours and drawings for museum merchandise.
John Sterr, marketing director for the Milwaukee County-owned Allis and Villa Terrace, came up with idea.
“I came to the Allis about a year ago,” he said, during an interview in his garret-like office at the Allis. “I was going around the neighborhood talking to people, just doing an assessment. So many people didn’t even know we’re here. I realized that even I didn’t know that some of the other museums were here. When I realized that the Museum of Wisconsin Art is right across the street – bam!”
Sterr met with his counterparts and directors at all the institutions, and everyone bought into the idea.
“I got this vision of a stroll, of people strolling from place to place, stopping for lunch,” said Laura Barnard, in a separate interview. Bernard is director of marketing and public relations at the Jewish Museum. “They’re close enough to do that. All of us fill niches, but when we come together, we become something complete.”
The lovingly restored lighthouse, in Lake Park, is a historical attraction at the north end of the mile. Jewish Museum Milwaukee, “dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the Jewish people in southeastern Wisconsin and celebrating the continuum of Jewish heritage and culture,” is at the south end of the run. In between: The Charles Allis and Villa Terrace, once the mansions of Milwaukee tycoons, are now decorative art museums with historical dimensions. The Allis has a lovely performing arts space, added a decade ago. The Italianate Villa Terrace features a vast, spectacular garden that drops level by level to the lakefront. The Museum of Wisconsin Art, on the ground floor of St. John’s on the Lake, is an extension of the long-established Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend.
Though a free shuttle will move people from door to door every 30 minutes on Saturday, the route is walkable. But note that the Milwaukee Museum Mile is a poetical, alliterative name, not a geographic measurement.
“It’s 1.8 miles,” Sterr said. “We rounded up.”
The route is also bike-friendly,with a bike trail tucked on the lake bluff just east of Prospect Avenue and with bike lanes marked on most streets. Restaurants abound up and down the Museum Mile(+), as do lake views and picnic spots. The Museum Mile, set as it is on one of Milwaukee’s most beautiful stretches of real estate, will be a great way to show off the town to visitors.
Sterr intends to eventually organize regular guided tours that would include not only museums, but architectural and historical attractions along the way — the North Avenue Water Tower, for example.
“The partners I’m working with are really making this happen,” Sterr said. “They’re passionate and committed and they do what they say they’ll do. We all have small budgets, but now anything we do will be instantly marketed by all the others. It’s like having four more marketers on your staff.”
They have a name, an event and a logo. Signage and brochures — a natural for those hotel things-to-see racks — are in the works. The Milwaukee Museum Mile has momentum.
2. Museum of Wisconsin Art at St. John’s On The Lake, 1800 N. Prospect Avenue (414-831-6875)
3. Charles Allis Art Museum, 1801 N. Prospect Avenue (414-278-8295)
4. Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Avenue (414-271-3656)
5. North Point Lighthouse, 2650 N. Wahl Avenue (414-332-6754)