Calling all art aficionados, immersive enthusiasts, and the creatively inclined! They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but an artistic retreat leading you through some of the finest art museums in the southeastern Wisconsin area is priceless. With this art-inerary as your guide, you can explore endless expressions of art from Racine to Kohler. Marvel at massive stone creations at the Lynden Sculpture Garden and gaze upon galleries of masterfully painted pieces at the Grohmann Museum all within a short drive of the Milwaukee area. So, gather your friends and set out on an artistic adventure from South to North.
Begin Your Jouney Just 30 Miles South of Downtown
Get crafty at the Racine Art Museum (RAM), the largest contemporary craft collection in North America. Featuring fine works of art from expertly blown glassworks to painstakingly designed textiles, the museum blurs the line between fine art and craft, emphasizing instead the concepts behind the pieces. Located in an award-winning architectural wonder, the Racine Arts Museum is a spectacular place to begin your trip.
Explore Downtown Milwaukee's Museums
Make your way to Milwaukee’s downtown area to fully immerse yourself in the works of one of history’s great painters at the Wisconsin Center’s Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience. See more than 400 of Claude Monet’s finest works spring to life across the sprawling 50,000 square-foot space. Watch as Impression, Sunrise, and The Water Lilly Pond leap off the canvas, forever changing how you see these groundbreaking works. Tickets are available now, don’t miss your chance to be a part of this experience.
The newest installation at the Haggerty Museum of Art will have you shouting, “I’m going on an adventure!” Located at Marquette University’s campus, J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript brings the realm of Middle Earth to life with the pages from the original manuscript of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Channel all your artistic inspiration to create some of your own at the Photoverse Selfie Museum! The creative masterpieces of students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), the 27 unique photo stations make the perfect back drop for your next profile pic. Take in the thoughtfully crafted Instagram-worthy spaces, find your favorite, and strike a pose!
The Museum of Wisconsin Art’s (MOWA) primary location, known as the “Mothership” is nestled along the Milwaukee River in West Bend. The stunning structure houses a two-story museum featuring clean lines and a triangular geometry offers five permanent collection galleries, two exhibition galleries. MOWA has three satellite locations throughout the state including one in downtown Milwaukee at Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel. Stop by the free DTN exhibition to explore the works of Tom Antell, Chris T. Cornelius, and Sky Hopinka entitled Strange Lands running now through January 8th, 2023.
Tucked away in the heart of downtown Milwaukee is the world’s most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work. The Grohmann Museum, an a massive assortment of more than 1,700 paintings, sculptures, and more celebrating the many trades that have built society through centuries of work. Located on the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s (MSOE) campus, the museum is currently exhibiting A Time of Toil and Triumph: Selections from the Shogren-Meyer Collection of American Art, running now through February 26, 2023.
Located along the lakefront just a mile away is the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum. A staple of the city’s skyline for more than 20 years, the museum itself is a brilliant work of architecture from the mind of Santiago Calatrava. See the beautiful Burke du Soleil open with the museum, flap at noon, and close at 5:00 p.m. (weather permitting). Spend the day exploring the sprawling galleries that house more than 32,000 pieces including works from Claude Monet, Kehinde Wiley, and Georgia O’Keeffe. While time is running out to see the Jules Chéret Always New exhibition , David Claerbout’s The Close—an exploration of film’s past, present, and future—opens on November 18, 2022.
Head just north along the lakefront to visit the historic and breathtaking Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. The lavish Renaissance-style villa overlooking the Lake Michigan houses a decorative arts wing as well as the Renaissance Gardens featuring stunning floral arrangements. Saunter through this idyllic piece of Milwaukee history as the architecture, beautifully manicured gardens, and decorative arts create a wholly encompassing artistic experience. The museum’s next exhibition Grounded highlights the works of three up-and-coming Midwest artists and their interpretations of what being, “grounded,” means to them using elements such as clay, plaster, and glass.
The Charles Allis Art Museum, found on Milwaukee’s East Side neighborhood, is home to a unique, world-class collection of art. Once belonging to the Allis family, the Eschweiler-designed Tudor-style mansion now serves as a museum that showcases a priceless assortment of pieces from around the world such as vases, paintings, brass statues, and the positively fascinating Vase of a Thousand Faces. Open now through December 4, 2022, take in the Ghosts of Segregation exhibit offering a commentary on the lingering presence of segregation in modern society from the perspective of photographer Richard Frishman.
Lynden Sculpture Garden! Make the short trip north of the city to Brown Deer to engross yourself in 40 acres of park, lake, and woodland. Beautifully coupling the scenic surroundings of nature with artistic expressions, the sculpture garden invites you to blaze your own tail and create an experience all your own. From now through November 27, 2022, the Healing Coats is an exhibition of wearable art created by local refugees, artists, and more that incorporates cultural and personal symbols of healing.
Head out to the charming village of Cedarburg for a collection of more than 260 paintings housed in a beautifully crafted 124-year-old mansion at the Cedarburg Art Museum. The three-story combination of Romanesque, Queen Anne, and classical architectural styles showcases a collection of outstanding Cedarburg and Wisconsin artists throughout its halls. On view now is an exhibition of selected works by one of Wisconsin’s best-known artists Gerrit V. Sinclair.
While you’re out in Cedarburg, stop by the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts for the only museum in Wisconsin dedicated to the rich tradition of fiber arts. The museum invites visitors to discover the artistic importance of quilts, traditional needle arts, and fiber arts in our community at an idyllic 1850s farm site. Coming November 17th, 2022, the 5th Fiber Arts Biennial: Hide + Seek challenges artists from the Greater Milwaukee area to create a fiber-based work inspired by the theme.
Extend Your Artistic Adventures
Feeling inspired? Follow your muse on an artistic adventure out to The Art Preserve and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center even further north in Sheboygan. A short trip from Milwaukee, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center highlights works by self-taught and contemporary artists spread across the center’s eight galleries.
The Art Preserve, found three miles from The Arts Center, is the world’s first museum to focus on work from art environments. With more than 25,000 works throughout the unique three-level architectural marvel, the collection spans a number of different disciplines, focusing on site-specific artist creations designed to significantly transform a space.