MILWAUKEE — It seems equally hard to imagine the Calatrava is twenty years old as it is to imagine Wisconsin Avenue without its wings at the eastern end. The Milwaukee Art Museum is celebrating this milestone anniversary of the striking addition that opened in the fall of 2001. The landmark quickly became a Milwaukee icon that is an integral part of the City’s identity and only growing in its significance.
“In terms of the museum and also for the city, it allowed us to grow up,” said Brigid Globensky, Senior Director of Education and Programs for the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Globensky arrived at MAM shortly before the Calatrava addition opened. She believes it sent an immediate message.
“We can play with the A-Team. We get works of art loaned from the Met, from the Louvre, most recently from the Prado, from the Albertina in Vienna, so we're in a different league altogether.”
VISIT Milwaukee, the City’s convention and visitors bureau, recognized the same thing immediately.
“It's been such an integral part of the skyline for as long as I can remember,” said VISIT’s President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith.
VISIT now incorporates the Calatrava image in its own logo.
“I think it's easily identifiable in everything we do, as well as the city,” Williams-Smith continued. “The city also adopted it, so it's not just Visit Milwaukee's logo, it's the City of Milwaukee's logo as well and I think that it really helps to incorporate that we are the fresh water coast, that we have the lake right there and it opens up over the lake.”
The Art Museum is still not fully open due to COVID-19. Patrons are welcome Thursday-Sunday, though MAM is not staging large group events.
Still, museum officials want the community to celebrate the anniversary.
“First of all, come down,” Globensky invited. “We used the down time during the pandemic to really spruce the building up. It's in tip-top shape. If you come in, we've redone the floors. It has this watery sheen to it that really connects to Lake Michigan. The walls have been painted. The outside has been painted. It just looks spectacular.”
Patrons are also invited to share photos on social media from past and present with the hashtag #MAMCalatrava20. A quick scroll down Twitter shows many fans are contributing.
The museum plans to expand its hours in the new year, and hopes to return to large events and school groups in spring. For visitor information: https://mam.org/