Milwaukee Art Museum from War Memorial

The origins of what we now call the Milwaukee Art Museum date back to 1888. That year, meatpacking baron and art aficionado, Frederick Layton, donated the Layton Art Gallery to the city of Milwaukee.

Also in 1888, the Milwaukee Art Association, later known as the Milwaukee Art Institute, was founded. These two art museums coexisted in the Milwaukee art scene until 1957 when they merged their collections for the Milwaukee Art Center, which was part of the War Memorial Center that you can see to the left of the viewer.

In 1980, the facility and organization were officially renamed as the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and became accredited by the American Association of Museums three years later.

MAM made a notable contribution to the Milwaukee skyline in 2001 when the Quadracci Pavilion was completed. The museum’s famous wings sit atop the Pavilion. The wings are made of 72 steel fins with a 217-foot wingspan that opens and closes twice each day.

The land that the Milwaukee Art Museum now sits on used to be bustling sections of railroad tracks serviced by the Chicago & North Western Railroad (C&NW). The C&NW station stood just out of view on the right side of the photograph in the viewer. The Lake Front Depot, as it was known, was constructed in 1889-1890 and closed in 1966. In its heyday, the Lake Front Depot welcomed 98 trains per day. In 1968, the structure was demolished.





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