Milwaukee Art Museum from US Bank Tower, Milwaukee

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) features over 35,000 works of art in its collection, making it one of the largest such museums in the country. Originally established in 1882, it moved into part of its current building in 1957 and expanded in 1975. By 2001, the museum opened its distinctive, world-renowned expansion designed by Santiago Calatrava – his first commissioned project in North America.

Milwaukee Art Museum front from walkway

Officially called the Quadracci Pavilion, the soaring, movable brise solelil “wings” span 217 feet when open. The wings are designed to fold down over the windows of the pavilion, shielding it from sunlight or inclement weather. This part of the museum has become iconic, serving as a symbol of the cit; many residents to refer to the building as “the Calatrava.” Another expansion in 2015 added 30,000 square feet to the facility.

State Trunk Tour Tidbit:

The Milwaukee Art Museum was named “Sexiest Building in the World” by Virtual Tourist in 2010. It’s a popular filming locale for commercials from Porsche to Victoria’s Secret; it also made a cameo in the opening of the movie Bridesmaids.

The MAM’s 35,000 works of art are housed on four floors, ranging from 15th century antiques to present-day works. Included are paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, decorative arts, photographs, and folk and self-taught art. Furthermore, their collection of American decorative arts, German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, and American art after 1960 rank among the nation’s highest.

Along with these works of art in their permanent collection, the Milwaukee Art Museum features top-ranked national exhibits, lectures, presentations, and events under the Wings. Also, the Kohl’s Art Generation Open Studio inside the Museum lets everyone from kids to grown-ups generate art of their own on weekends and the first Thursday of each month.

Georgia O’Keeffe is a Wisconsin native, born in Sun Prairie; consequently, the Milwaukee Art Museum features one of her largest collections. Another Wisconsin native, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, also has a number of works featured. Other especially relevant artists include Gustave Caillebotte, Nardo di Cione, Francisco de Zurbarán, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Winslow Homer, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Mark Rothko, Robert Gober, and Andy Warhol.

While exploring the museum be sure to check out the very life-like Janitor, designed by Duane Hanson in 1973. Maybe marvel at the Lake Michigan view various locales within the facility, or have a bite or beverage in their lower level cafe while you take a break. You can even explore the parking garage that has inspired luxury car commercials. Enjoy a nice walk or bike ride (rentals are available) around the museum and along the lakefront or downtown. Lakefront trails, Veterans Park, and adjacent sights like Discovery World, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, the U.S. Bank Tower, Henry Maier Festival Park (home of Summerfest), Lakefront State Park, and the Historic Third Ward all beckon.

You’ll find the Milwaukee Art Museum where U.S. 18 ends at Lake Michigan. I-794 and Highway 32 are within blocks. Also, I-43/94 and Highways 38, 59, and 145 all bring you within a mile.

Milwaukee Art Museum Hours:

Tuesday-Wednesday, 10am – 5pm
Thursday, 10am – 8pm
Friday-Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Closed Monday


700 N. Art Museum Drive (where U.S. 18 ends)
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 224-3200

Racine Art Museum on Main Street

Racine Art Museum/Wustum Museum of Fine Arts

The Racine Art Museum (RAM) grew out of the Charles A. Wustum Museum, which was founded in 1941 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (fewer than 5% of the nation’s museums receive this), the Racine Art Museum opened in 2003 and offers 46,000 square feet of galleries, sculptures,

The building’s white acrylic facade is flooded by colored lights each evening and serves as a modernist architectural focal point for Racine’s Main Street (Highway 32, right by the ends of Highways 20 and 38.)

The Wustum Museum section of the RAM features regional and local artists while carrying on the tradition of hosting the museum’s arts education and community outreach programs, which are the largest of their kind in Wisconsin.

The Racine Art Museum offers one of the largest collections of contemporary crafts of any North American museum, including large collections of contemporary teapots, baskets and artist-made jewelry. The permanent collection features more than 4,000 artworks from internationally recognized artists. The museum’s Ceramics collection numbers over 600 objects that include internationally known ceramic sculptors; their largely sculptural Glass collection contains works from artists Harvey Littleton, Dale Chihuly, Joel Philip Meyers, Dan Dailey, Steven Hodder and Judy Jensen.  The museum’s collection of Metals includes one of the largest groupings of contemporary jewelry of any museum. The RAM’s wood collection consists of vessels and furniture, with one of the highlights being a Wendell Castle desk that was in Objects USA.

Handmade Books: The museum owns a large number of handmade books, both hand-printed letterpress examples and larger editioned offset lithography works; it is one of the largest collections of its kind in a Midwestern art museum.

Racine Art Museum

Contemplating an interesting work on the second floor of the Racine Art Museum.

You’ll find the Racine Art Museum right along Main Street in downtown Racine, right near other State Trunk Tour points of interest and attractions like Monument Square, the Kewpee, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Johnson Wax Research Tower and Golden Rondelle, the Racine Zoo, Wind Point Lighthouse, and more. It’s right along Highway 32; Highway 20‘s eastern end is one block south, Highway 38‘s southern end is two blocks north, and Highway 11 is about two miles south.

Racine Art Museum (RAM) Hours:

Closed Monday
Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday, Noon – 5:00 pm

RAM’s Wustum Hours
Closed Sunday and Monday
Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 am – 5:00 pm

441 Main Street (Highway 32)
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 638-8300

Kenosha Public Museum

kenosha-public-museum-outside01The Kenosha Public Museum is a natural sciences and fine and decorative arts museum with over 80,000 collections, including 1,200 works in fine arts. Exhibit programming includes mammoths, world cultures, Native Americans, zoology, geology, fossils, and fine and decorative arts.

Permanent exhibits include:

  • The Wisconsin Story, a multi-disciplinary adventure in ecosystem development, evolution of plants and animals, the lives of Native Americans, and even changes in climate as they’ve happened over southeastern Wisconsin over thousands of years. The Schaefer mammoth, actually excavated by the Museum documents the earliest interaction of mammoth and man east of the Mississippi River. The replica is set in a special floor display exactly as found on the Schaefer farm in Paris, Wisconsin, a township along U.S. 45 in Kenosha County. This site is one of the oldest sites of human habitation in all of the Americas. The Hebior mammoth was also excavated in Kenosha County; it’s the largest, most complete mammoth excavated in North America.
  • The Decorative and Fine Arts Gallery includes works by renowned artists like Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Salvador Dali as well as regional artists who have achieved significant recognition such as Lorado Taft, Ruth Miles, and William Bloom. The decorative arts are well represented with Chinese ivory carvings, an ancient Chinese bronze goddess, and Wisconsin salt glazed pottery. Works change frequently.

There are many other rotating and virtual exhibits; you could easily spend the majority of a day here!

The Kenosha Public Museum is located on the east end of downtown Kenosha in the city’s HarborPark District within blocks of Lake Michigan. Highways 32, 50, and 158 all bring you to downtown Kenosha, which is about seven miles east of I-41/94.

Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday Noon – 5pm

5500 First Avenue
Kenosha, WI
(262) 653-4140

Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

An impressive art museum in the heart of Wausau – which itself is in the heart of Wisconsin – the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum covers four acres and is housed in a beautiful 1931 Tudor mansion. Their “Birds In Art” exhibition is world-class, filled with contemporary artistic representations of all kinds of birds, from paintings to sculptures. It’s truly a prime destination for nature art lovers – and admission is free!

The Museum also hosts a series of events from art exhibits to concerts and holiday celebrations. Check their website’s event calendar for updated schedules.

The Museum’s hours are:
Tuesday-Friday 9am-4pm, with extended hours until 7:30pm on the first Thursday of each month
Saturday-Sunday noon-5pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays

You can get to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum via Highway 52, with I-39, U.S. 51, and Highway 29 all close by!

700 N. 12th Street
Wausau, WI 54403
(715) 845-7010

Lynden Sculpture Garden

In 1962, Peg Bradley (a matriarch of the Allen-Bradley Corporation, now part of Rockwell International) began collecting contemporary sculptures and installed them on the grounds of the 40-acre property and she and her husband Harry owned. They purchased the home and property in 1927 and transformed the grounds into an English country garden, complete with small lakes and a rustic bridge. The addition of monumental sculptures throughout turned the grounds into a draw for art lovers and enthusiasts from all over. Sculptures on the grounds include those by artists Alexander Archipenko, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Clement Meadmore, Marta Pan, Tony Smith, Mark di Suvero and many others. Decent-led tours are available on Sundays.

You’ll find (and you definitely have to look!) the Lynden Sculpture Garden along Highway 100/Brown Deer Road in River Hills, 0.8 miles west of I-43/Highway 32 and about 1.5 miles east of Highway 57.   Look for the small sign hanging from a lamppost at the entrance that says “LYNDEN. Harry L. Bradley.”

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-5pm (Wednesdays til 7:30pm during summer months)
Thursday CLOSED
Saturday-Sunday 10am-5pm

Adults: $9, $12 with Sunday tour
Seniors (62 and over), Students with ID, and Children 6-17: $7, $8 with Sunday tour
Children under 6 are admitted free with adult, with or without the tour

2145 W. Brown Deer Road (Highway 100)
Milwaukee, WI 53217
(414) 446-8794

Sheboygan and City Green: the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and the State Trunk Tour Podcast

John Michael Kohler Arts Center

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) offers a variety of concepts and directions in contemporary art with particular consideration of craft-related forms, installation works, photography, new genres, ongoing cultural traditions, and the work of self-taught artists.  They have an impressive collection of permanent exhibits and a dynamic series of rotating ones.  Their ARTspace gallery offers international collections and exhibits.

The JMKAC has a world-renowned Arts/Industry program, considered one of the most unusual ongoing collaborations between arts and industry in the country (the Kohler Corporation’s involvement is, of course, one reason for this.)

Plenty of events are hosted at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center too, check our Event Calendar for those or the JMKAC Event Calendar!

You’ll find the JMKAC in downtown Sheboygan at 6th & New York Avenue, just a short hop away from where Highways 23, 28, and 42 all meet… and end.

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Saturdays, Sundays, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Closed major holidays

John Michael Kohler Arts Center Address:

608 New York Avenue
Sheboygan, WI 53081
(920) 458-6144

FREE parking is available across the street on the south side of New York Avenue.
Admission to the Arts Center is by voluntary donation.

Pelicans on Lake Michigan - Visit Sheboygan

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Rahr West Art Museum

The Rahr West Art Museum sits just north of downtown Manitowoc along northbound U.S. 10/Business 42 (8th Street) in an 1893 Queen Anne mansion. The mansion was originally built for Joseph Vilas, a successful merchant and two-time mayor of the city (UW-Madison students will recognize his name on their communication building.)

A museum since 1941, the Rahr West features a variety of art collections including a rare porcelain sculptures, original furnished 1930s dollhouses, and period furniture throughout the museum’s many rooms. Special exhibitions are regularly held, as is Sputnik Fest, which commemorates a piece of the Soviet satellite landing in the street in front of the museum in 1962.

The Rahr West’s hours are 10am-4pm Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm Saturdays and Sundays. They are closed Mondays.

610 N. 8th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
(920) 686-3090