Foundation partner, Milwaukee Art Museum, gets a facelift

MAM Event
The Milwaukee Art Museum was in need of serious repairs. A leaky roof, mold infiltration, a failed HVAC system, broken concrete, leaking windows and foundation seepage were among the problems that needed to be addressed. One of the sponsors of the $34 million renovation project was the A. O. Smith Foundation.

A. O. Smith has its own gallery in the newly renovated building. The gallery is sectioned off under a large sign with the company’s logo on it.  The A. O. Smith Foundation has been partnered with the museum for over 40 years, with donations dating back to 1973. Roger Smith, director of community affairs, views the donation as a public service to let people enjoy the wonderful gift of expression. Smith is an artist himself; he earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Lewis and Clark College and still paints and draws. 

Roger Smith MAM Event“I feel it’s a responsibility to give people the opportunity to appreciate art,” Smith said of the Foundation’s donation. “Art is an expression of the soul and allows viewers to enter into that expression."

The museum renovated its buildings to house more exhibits and replace old fixtures. The project called for the complete restoration of the county-owned Saarinen and Kahler buildings and the reinstallation of the Museum’s collections. It has been around 40 years since the Kahler building’s last renovation.

“The difference was night and day,” said Smith.

MAM ArtThe museum’s collection includes art ranging from local painters and sculptures all the way to priceless masterpieces. The museum also holds one of the largest collections of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe.

The ribbon cutting event was held on Nov. 14, and featured speeches from the museum’s President Donald Layden Jr., Executive Director Kenneth Krei, and major donors including Commissioner Emeritus of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig. Visitors came from all over the country to view the renovations, including a representative from a gallery in New York City.

The Milwaukee Art Museum was founded in 1888 and has evolved and grown into one of the region’s most significant art museums.

The renovated building opened to the public on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. 

*Photos courtesy of Front Room Photography