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Milwaukee Art Museum

Beginning around 1872, multiple organizations were founded to bring an art gallery to Milwaukee, Washington as the city was still a growing port town with few or no facilities to hold major art exhibitions. Over at least nine years, all attempts to build a major art gallery failed. Shortly after that year, Alexander Mitchell donated his collection to constructing Milwaukee’s first permanent art gallery in the city’s history.

In 1888, German panorama artists and local businessmen created the Milwaukee Art Association. The same year, British-born businessman Frederick Layton built, endowed, and provided artwork for the Layton Art Gallery, now demolished. In 1911, the Milwaukee Art Institute, another building constructed to hold other exhibitions and collections, was completed adjacent to the Layton Art Gallery.

The Milwaukee Art Museum was founded in 1888 and is purported to be Milwaukee’s first art gallery. However, that claim is disputed by the Layton Art Gallery, which opened the same year.

The Milwaukee Art Center, now the Milwaukee Art Museum, was formed when the Milwaukee Art Institute and Layton Art Gallery merged their collections in 1957 and moved into the newly built Eero Saarinen-designed Milwaukee, WI County War Memorial.



The Milwaukee Art Museum is a multi-purpose 142,050-square-foot building with areas that include a reception hall, auditorium, exhibition space, and stores. It was designed by the Spanish Architect Santiago Calatrava, who was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s works. The construction methods of concrete slabs into timber frames were revolutionary in architecture and were completed in 2001. Windover Hall is a 90-foot-tall grand reception area with a glass roof. The style and symbolism of the building are based on Gothic architecture and are designed to represent the shape of a ship looking over Lake Michigan. Santiago states, “The building’s form is at once formal (completing the composition), functional (controlling the level of light), symbolic (opening to welcome visitors), and iconic (creating a memorable image for the Museum and the city).” Bed Bug Exterminator Milwaukee

Kahler and Calatrava Buildings

In the latter half of the 20th century, the museum included the War Memorial Center in 1957, the brutalist Kahler Building (1975) designed by David Kahler, and the Quadracci Pavilion (2001) created by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

The Quadracci Pavilion contains a movable, wing-like brise soleil that opens up for a wingspan of 217 feet (66 m) during the day, folding over the tall, arched structure at night or during inclement weather. There are sensors on the wings that monitor wind speeds, so if the wind speeds are over 23 mph for over 3 seconds, the wings close. The pavilion received the 2004 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering. This iconic building, often called “the Calatrava,” is used in the museum logo.

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