Charles Allis Art Museum
Press Release

Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums Appoint John Sterr Executive Director

The Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums Inc. is pleased to announce that John Sterr has accepted the position of Executive Director for the organization.

By - Nov 4th, 2014 11:17 am
John Sterr

John Sterr

Milwaukee, WI – The Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums Inc. is pleased to announce that John Sterr has accepted the position of Executive Director for the organization. Sterr has been in management at the museums for over three years, most recently as Interim Executive Director.

“Our search for a new Executive Director was comprehensive,” said CAVT Museums President Claudia Egan, “and we were fortunate to have had a strong internal candidate in John. We extended the offer to John in recognition of his achievements with the organization, his passion for our mission, and as someone from whom we believe the best is yet to come.”

Sterr has excelled as the Museum’s Marketing Manager for the past three years. Most notably he founded the Milwaukee Museum Mile in 2011 with the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Museum of Wisconsin Art at Saint John’s On The Lake, and the North Point Lighthouse to raise the profile of its member organizations in partnership with each other. He has also been involved with planning and execution of membership, event, curatorial, and facilities projects at both museums.

“The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum and the Charles Allis Art Museum are Milwaukee’s two iconic historic public spaces. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working with our Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and friends groups to lead CAVT in its mission as stewards of the museums,” says Sterr. “The generous support of our donors, members, friends groups and Milwaukee County make it possible for us to educate, inspire, and delight the public through the quality local arts and cultural programming we provide.”

Sterr is a native of Whitefish Bay and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Broad Field Social Studies from Cardinal Stritch University. He has extensive operations management experience, working ten years in the airline industry, before leaving to pursue a career in historic preservation. Sterr helped create the Cottage Home Neighborhood Conservation District Plan, in Indianapolis, while restoring his 1889 Victorian home in the neighborhood. Before returning to Milwaukee, he was the operations manager for a small historic renovation and design company working in the heart of Indianapolis.

About the Charles Allis Art Museum
Bequeathed to the city of Milwaukee in 1947 by industrialist Charles and Sarah Allis, this historic home dating to 1911, designed and built by Alexander Eschweiler, features the Charles Allis Art Collection. The work is displayed the way the Allis’ enjoyed it, along with their original furnishings. It features paintings and engravings by Gainsborough, Dürer, Whistler, Rousseau, Homer, Shinn and Ertz among many others. Its collection of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese pottery with pieces dating back to 200 B.C. is among the best in the Midwest. The museum carries on the tradition of support for Wisconsin artists by staging exhibitions annually of local, regional, and statewide artistic production. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Charles Allis Art Museum is at once a superior historic house museum and a world-class art experience. More information can be found at

About the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Born out of their honeymoon to Italy, the Renaissance Italian-style villa was built above the bluff of Lake Michigan by Lloyd and Agnes Smith. Lloyd Smith was the president of the A.O. Smith Corporation, and A.O.’s son. The company thrived making car frames for Henry Ford’s assembly line. Architect David Adler designed and built the Villa Terrace in 1924, with an eye toward the lake calling it the Smith’s “Mediterranean.” The family raised six children in the home before donating the estate to the citizens of Milwaukee County in 1967. Featuring a restored bluff-side Renaissance Garden, the Villa Terrace is home to Milwaukee master craftsman Cyril Colnik’s collection of decorative ironwork, exquisite decorative arts, and host of original art exhibitions, musical performances, and community events. It is now one of the best public vantage points along the shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. More information can be found at

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