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Wings above Milwaukee

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By Wayne Lazarus on November 6th, 2011

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

In competition for exhibits and attendees, museums often seek housing that expresses a grand statement. The Milwaukee Art Museum, with roots stretching back to the 1880s, was ready for an expansion of its site by the 1990s. The architect selected to create the new building was Spain’s Santiago Calabrava. He designed a spectacular addition to the museum, which is known as the Quadracci Pavilion. It opened in 2001 to great acclaim.

With over 25,000 works of art, this museum is well worth a visit, but its beautiful building alone is reason enough to go. The Quadracci Pavilion complements the War Memorial Center, which was designed by Finnish-American architect Eric Brannan, completed in 1957 and blends with the Reiman Bridge, which connects the museum to Milwaukee.

The new building includes the large, airy Windover Hall. Its 90-foot high glass ceiling is alternately shaded and uncovered to the sky by the Burke Brise Soleil, a 217-foot sunscreen that opens into giant wings then closes down atop the building. The wings, similar in span length to a Boeing 747-400’s wings, open at 10 a.m, fold in and then re-open at noon, then close again at 5 p.m. except on Thursday, when they fold in dramatically at 8 p.m. (The schedule is subject to change due to maintenance or weather.) The sun-shade is comprised of 72 steel fins which range in length from 26 to 105 feet.

The museum has been celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Soleil all year. The mechanics of this iconic sunscreen were inspected and repaired recently, and only just begun operating again. The Milwaukee Museum of Art opened its new Impressionism: MasterWorks exhibition with over 100 drawings, water-colors and pastels created by Manet, Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec among others. These works are less well-known than their paintings but equally fascinating.

The museum is open from 10 to 5 Tuesday through Sunday (and until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.) It is closed on Mondays. There are range of ticket prices, but children under 12 are admitted free. Check Milwaukee Hotel Discounts for great prices on quality rooms for your stay in Milwaukee.

Photos courtesy Milwaukee Art Museum. Used with permission.

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