Arts & Culture
Home to world-class museum collections and both the oldest and largest performing arts organizations in the state, Milwaukee’s arts scene is one of the Midwest’s best kept secrets. From the famous Santiago Calatrava-designed “wings” of the Milwaukee Art Museum to the best of Broadway on tour, arts lovers will find so much to love during their time in Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is one of the city’s most iconic attractions, thanks to a collection of 30,000 works spanning from antiquity to the present as well as the striking architecture of the Quadracci Pavilion, featuring the moveable “wings” of the Burke Brise Soleil. The collection includes paintings, sculpture, prints, decorative arts, photographs and much more to admire. Among the best in the nation are the Museum’s holding of American decorative arts, German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, and American art after 1960. The Museum also holds one of the largest collections of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe.
Art lovers can also explore MOWA (Museum of Wisconsin Art), the nation’s premier venue for exhibitions of historic and contemporary Wisconsin art. Charles Allis Art Museum is a Tudor-style house sporting original furnishings as well as an art collection that spans 2,000 years and its sister museum, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum was designed and built in the style of an Italian Renaissance villa and features fine and decorative arts dating from the 15th through the 18th centuries, wrought-iron masterpieces by Cyril Colnik, and the popular Renaissance Garden. The Grohmann Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of art dedicated to the history of human work, ranging from farming to modern industry.
Theater & Performing Arts
From the works of Shakespeare to irreverent comedies, theater provides great evening entertainment during the fall. The biggest Broadway hits come on tour to the Marcus Center of the Performing Arts, and local professional companies present a wide range of productions. The Milwaukee Repertory Theater has been nationally recognized as one of the top regional theaters in the country for more than 60 years. Find cutting-edge professional theater companies Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Renaissance Theaterworks and popular musical theater company Skylight Music Theatre in the Broadway Theater Center, located in the Historic Third Ward.
Experience classics with cornerstones of Milwaukee’s performing arts scene. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is Wisconsin’s largest professional performing company and performs more than 130 classics, pops, family and educational concerts each season. The
Milwaukee Ballet is a perennial favorite, producing beloved classics and innovative new works, and the Grammy Award-winning Florentine Opera Company is the oldest professional performing arts organization in the state. Or see the latest and greatest with local companies producing new and innovative works. Present Music is a nationally and internationally acclaimed ensemble performing the music of today’s most exciting composers. Danceworks is Milwaukee’s home for contemporary dance performance.
Concerts & Entertainment
Milwaukee’s music and entertainment venues bring some of the most exciting touring acts to the city, plus unique locally-produced shows. Built by beer baron Captain Frederick Pabst in 1895, the opulent Pabst Theater with its Baroque gold leaf interior and crystal chandelier has moved beyond its classical arts heritage to a modern lineup of jazz, alt country and contemporary music. The ornate Riverside Theater, legendary home of vaudeville and film, now hosts everyone from Sheryl Crow to Bob Dylan. And the second floor ballroom of an 1880’s German social club is now perfect indie band venue: Turner Hall. Getting up close and personal with performers like Bonnie Raitt, Jay Leno and Lyle Lovett is easy at the Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The stunning two-tiered layout of the theater features a world-class sound system, booth and table seating on the first level and traditional theater seating above.