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Milwaukee Art Museum

HGA Architects and Engineers


Milwaukee Art Museum


  • General Contractor: Hunzinger Construction Company

Project Status

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Project Description


Located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, this project at the Milwaukee Art Museum involved a new addition with an entrance at the lakefront and the complete renovation of existing permanent galleries. The museum was built in three phases – the original 1955 building, a 1975 addition for the permanent collection and a 2001 expansion with a new main lobby, changing gallery and lecture hall. The new addition grafted onto the 1970s wing takes the form of a cantilever facing the lake, under which an all-glass first floor allows visual transparency between the building and lakefront. It creates a new waterfront entry atrium with a café, lounges and sculpture galleries with water views while allowing for an expansion of the contemporary galleries as well as a new changing gallery. The new addition is clad in darkened stainless steel panels that harmonize with the color of the existing concrete building and reflects the ever changing light of the water and atmosphere with a diffuse matt finish. Deep-set apertures provide views of the lake, city bluffs and newest wing of the museum. The addition also includes new stairs to a rooftop terrace at the level of the downtown bluff top, allowing pedestrians to walk directly onto the roof from the city, view the lake below and then descend the stairs to the lakefront walk. The existing permanent collection galleries were completely renovated, with new gallery partitions and visitor-friendly organization.

Jury Comment: “Understated and functional, the architect creatively organized the new addition to optimize its site and serve as an elegantly simple foil to the existing museum. The new entrance addresses the lakefront simply and calmly.”
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