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A Milwaukee Art Museum Mini Guide

Updated: May 2, 2021

If you’re into art, you’ll love the Milwaukee Art Museum. This sprawling museum and architectural wonder rises from the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin like a majestic white ship.

In addition to being one of the most visually striking art museums I’ve ever seen, it’s also one of the most engaging. My favorite part of traveling with a four-year-old is that I have an instant barometer for how welcoming and interactive a museum is. If a museum can capture a kid’s interest, adults are going to enjoy it too.

The Milwaukee Art Museum offers lot of opportunities for visitors of all ages to enjoy its exhibits. Here’s a look at some of my favorite features to help you plan your visit.

What You’ll Discover: The Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection contains over 30,000 works, from the early days of antiquity to funky modern art. Its collections of American decorative arts, painting and prints from the German Expressionists, modern American art, folk art and Haitian art are especially notable.

Learn As You Go: There are so many opportunities to go deep into the museum’s collections, even for the tiniest visitors. The Milwaukee Art Museum offers stroller tours, guided tours, story time, craft labs and lots of hands on learning opportunities for all ages. Download the Family Touch Tour app to explore the exhibits through games and video or check out a tablet at the museum for no charge.

Famous Feature: The Burke Brise Soleil is actually a sunscreen that welcomes visitors like a giant pair of wings that open and close. (Its wingspan is actually about as wide as a Boeing 747-400!) This architectural element has become a symbol of the city.

Fun Extra:  Adults can try Yoga @ The Museum. The $15 fee covers a yoga class with a view of Lake Michigan and same-day admission to the museum.

Don’t Miss:  The iconic wings of the Burke Brise Soleil open and shut every day that the museum is open. So get there at 10 a.m. to see them open, come at noon to watch them flap and leave a little before closing time to watch the wings close too. (It’s it’s windy, the wings close automatically.)

Insider Tip: If you’re exploring with kids, grab a free ArtPack. They contain a variety of activities that correspond with certain works of art, so you can sketch in the galleries, ponder puzzles, play with puppets and read picture books to help you learn more about the exhibits.

Great View: The main entrance space of the museum contains a massive wall of windows in a facade that juts out towards Lake Michigan like the front of a ship.

Epic Event: Kohl’s Art Generation Family Sundays are all about art projects, cool tours, performances and activities. They happen five times a year. The next one is scheduled for March 11.

My Lunch Pick: Café Calatrava has fantastic Lake Michigan views and edgy cuisine with an emphasis on the fresh and the local.

Get Outdoors: The landscaped Cudahy Gardens feature hedges, fountains, paved plazas and a lush green expanse of grass to enjoy from your park bench. The museum is also located directly off of the Oak Leaf Trail, which runs along the shores of Lake Michigan before snaking deeper into the city.

Free and Discounted: Kids under 12 and Wisconsin K–12 teachers who present a valid school ID or pay stub always enter for free. The first Thursday of each month is free for everybody.

How about you? What’s your favorite thing to do at the Milwaukee Art Museum? Which features do you look for in an art museum? What makes a museum fun for all ages? What’s your favorite kind of art? How do you prefer to take in an art museum?

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