Milwaukee Public Library

Visit historic Central Library for unique collections, programs & tours.

814 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI • 53233
[email protected]
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The historic Central Library welcomes more than two million visitors a year and is the cornerstone of the Milwaukee Public Library System. An official Milwaukee Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the original 1898 building was designed by architects Ferry & Clas in the Beaux Arts style. It features a spectacular rotunda dome and mosaic floor and interior highlights in oak, mahogany, and marble.

The Betty Brinn Children’s Room is home to the largest circulating collection of children’s books in Wisconsin. Children also have access to 30 computers, a puppet theater, and can take the stairs into their own library lighthouse for a bird’s eye view of the room.

Central Library also houses the Great Lakes Marine Collection, the City of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Architectural Archives, and the Milwaukee Road Archives as well as the Local History Manuscript Collection, poster and sheet music collections, and  historic photo archives.

The Milwaukee Public Library’s rarities collection features materials of local as well as national interest. Select items are on display throughout the year, and some may be viewed by appointment.

The Business Commons is a collaborative space for everyone to learn, explore, and grow in life.  The space is open for networking and collaboration opportunities with  the flexibility of working outside traditional study or office spaces. 

Free tours of the library begin at 11 a.m. each Saturday morning in the rotunda. Tours are also available by appointment by calling (414) 286-TOUR.

Tours of the Central Library Green Roof are offered Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 1:30 p.m., August through October.

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Things You'll Find:

  1. There are 120 lights in the rotunda dome.
  2. A life-sized statue of Ben Franklin, father of public libraries, greets visitors.
  3. The grand staircase is made of Jerusalem stone and weighs approximately 70 tons. Can you find the upside-down marble baluster?
  4. The floor of the Children’s Room was designed by local author/artist Lois Ehlert. Can you find the two curious mice at the top of the pillar in the Children’s Room?
  5. Three tiers below the library’s ground floor provide shelving for more than 2 million circulating items.
  6. The Autograph Book, housed in the Rare Books Room, is a collection of 121 autographs ranging from 1816 through 1898 and including Charles Dickens, John Adams, Ludwig Van Beethoven and Mark Twain.
  7. The original U-shaped building was home to both the Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee Public Museum until YEAR. The museum housed a live lion, Simba, on the 4th floor for a short time in 1939.

Onsite Amenities
& Features

  • ADA Compliant
  • WiFi Available
  • WiFi Available (Complimentary)
  • Family Friendly
  • Total Number of Meeting Rooms


  • Miles to Airport: 10.00
  • Miles to the Convention Center: 0.30
  • Price Range: Free
  • Total Sq. Ft. Meeting Space: 1050
  • Sq. Ft. of Largest Meeting Room: 1050
  • Capacity of Largest Room Set Theater Style: 85
  • Facility Classification: Event Venue

Facility Information

Property Value

Rooms Available

Room Name Total Sq. Ft.TheaterClassroom
Business Commons Collaboration --6
Business Commons Connection --6
East View Conference Room --16
Paul Gottfried Krikelas Technology Conference Room --14
Rotary Club of Milwaukee Community Room 105085-



The bustling neighborhood of Westown is home to Historic Old World Third Street, the Milwaukee RiverWalk, Fiserv Forum, and the Wisconsin Center District.

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