Spending A Day At The Milwaukee Art Museum

If you are looking for a perfect solo day trip, Milwaukee is a perfect destination.

My favorite place in Milwaukee has to be the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Just the structure itself is a piece of art. I love to go during the week when it’s quiet and and I can get a close look at all the art. It is a meditative experience that I first learned of while visiting the Orsay in Paris. I became hooked on art and the Milwaukee Art Museum is filled with world class pieces.  How lucky we Wisconsinites are to have such a museum right in our backyard!

I am by no means an art snob, but I know what I like. I guess because I am such a Francophile, I tend to gravitate toward late nineteenth- early twentieth century art from the period when Paris was the center of all the arts. Degas, Monet, Picasso, the Milwaukee Art Museum has them all.

If you like modern art, you can find it here. Interesting paintings, photos, and sculptures are sure to capture the attention of those that love the unconventional.

If you are a Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keefe fan, this is THE place to view one of the largest collections of her work.

Expanding over 341,000 square feet in 3 buildings (the War Memorial Center, the Kahler Building, and the Quadracci Pavilion) the museum holds 30,000 works on four floors and 41 galleries.

Not only can you find a vast collection of European, American, and Haitian art, the museum also holds one of the largest collections of American Decorative Arts.  You can easily see why you can spend an entire day here!

The museum hold a vast collection of Haitian art

As you first enter the Windhover Hall, you can see why this is such a cherished place in Milwaukee

It completely blows you away as you see the 90 foot glass ceiling and gorgeous views of Lake Michigan. Open and airy, it is the perfect place to hold the popular once a month Saturday morning Yoga classes. The Quadracci Pavilion was designed by famous Architect Santiago Calatrava

The museum prides itself as an educational resource and holds a multitude of classes, educational tours, and variety of events for everyone.  It is hard to find a day of the week where there is nothing going on. You can also find many temporary exhibits like the ones that were going on when I visited, Degas To Picasso: Creating Modernism In France and Designing Paris: The Posters of Jules Cheret. Be sure and check the website to keep up to date on the exhibits featured when you visit.

Upon entering the museum, be sure and grab a map. There is lots to see and if you have limited time you may need to pick and choose your favorite areas. The museum is divided into areas showcasing European, Modern, American, Folk, Media, and Contemporary art. There is a gallery spotlighting 20th and 21st Century Design.  You can also find the Special Exhibitions Gallery and the Kohls Art Generation area for hands on activities. Each area is color coded on the map.

A copy of the map. Make sure you grab one!

As you enter you will find yourself in the Modern Art Collection. From there you can wander to the left and find the European galleries. Since I am only an hour away, this day I focused on the special exhibits and the 20th and 21st Century Design, but did a quick run through of many of the other galleries.

After all that art, you will certainly be hungry and thirsty.

There are three spots in the museum to grad a drink and a bit to eat. Cafe Calatrava located in the cafe level is a full service restaurant. The East End Wine Bar offers soup and sandwiches and of course, wine. Windhover Coffee on the main level has choices for a light lunch and snacks.

For picking up some great things to remember your visit, the Museum Store is a large gift shop that has a ton of things from books, clothing, jewelry, and things for the kiddos. It’s fun just to stop in and browse. You never know what unique things you will find. I love stopping here whenever I visit.

If you want to dip your feet into solo travel, visiting a local museum on a day road trip is the perfect way to get started. I like to pick excursions like these when I am in between vacations. It gives me a way to break up everyday life. This trip I was lucky to have Megan with me home on a break from College, and being an art lover herself, it was fun to share this with her. I have visited on my own also.

Have you been to the museum?

What local museum is your favorite to visit? Please comment below!


Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm

Thursday 10am-8pm

And Open Mondays Memorial Day-Labor Day 10am-5pm

Don’t forget about free Meijer Thursdays!  Free admission (excluding groups) on the first Thursday of every month

Please go to the MAM website to verify hours and admission fees.

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