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Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum (Buildings & City)

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The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) is located on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Starting around 1872 (146 years ago), multiple organizations were founded in order to bring an art gallery to Milwaukee, as the city was still a growing port town with little or no places to hold major art exhibitions. Over at least nine years, all attempts to build a major art gallery had failed. In 1881 (137 years ago), exhibitions were held at Milwaukee's Exposition Hall, which was Milwaukee's primary event venue at the time. Shortly after that year, Alexander Mitchell donated all of her collection into constructing Milwaukee's first permanent art gallery in the city's history.

The museum's history began in 1882 (136 years ago) when the Milwaukee Museum of Fine Arts was founded. The museum dissolved six years later. In 1888 (130 years ago), the Milwaukee Art Association was created by a group of German panorama artists and local businessmen; its first home was the Layton Art Gallery. In 1911 (107 years ago), the Milwaukee Art Institute, another building constructed to hold other exhibitions and collections, was completed. The institute was built right next to the Layton Art Gallery. Alfred George Pelikan, who received his Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) from Columbia University, was the Director of the Milwaukee Art Institute from 1926 (92 years ago) to 1942 (76 years ago). 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 (61 years ago) and moved into a three-story building underneath the Eero Saarinen-designed Milwaukee County War Memorial.

The museum is home to over 25,000 works of art. Its permanent holdings contain an important collection of Old Masters and 19th-century and 20th-century artwork, as well as some of the nation's best collections of German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, American decorative arts, and post-1960 American art. The museum holds a large number of works by Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as many works by the German Expressionist, Gabriele Munter.

The MAM recently gained international recognition with the construction of the white concrete Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava (his first completed project in the United States), which opened on May 4, 2001 (17 years ago). The pavilion was engineered by the Milwaukee-based engineering firm, Graef. The structure contains a movable, wing-like brise soleil which opens up for a wingspan of 217 feet during the day, folding over the tall, arched structure at night or during inclement weather. The brise soleil has since become a symbol for the city of Milwaukee. In addition to a gallery devoted to temporary exhibits, the pavilion also houses the museum's store, as well as its restaurant, Cafe Calatrava. With the exception of the temporary exhibition gallery, the galleries themselves are contained in both the Saarinen building and a 1975 (43 years ago) addition designed by local architect David Kahler. This addition was commissioned in 1969 (49 years ago) to make room for other exhibits and donations.


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