Checking Out the Milwaukee Art Museum: Exhibits, Parking, After Dark Events

I don’t often write about plain old non-quirky art museums in U.S. cities, because they’re kind of a dime a dozen. But the Milwaukee Art Museum is a bit different, as you can tell simply from looking at the shape of the building.

milwaukee art museum - parking and after dark events

The wing-like pavilion was added in 2001, and that has really increased the cool factor. Looking at the museum from a side angle creates another interesting view.

art museum exterior

I could make an entire post just from shots of the building from the outside and from the inside, where the view gets even cooler.

art museum interior

Folks in Milwaukee are rightfully proud of this museum, but it gets kind of ridiculous because they have an entire exhibit dedicated to the construction of the museum itself, with lots of miniature models of the structure. It’s a little silly. Humility, people!

art museum models

Exhibits on Display Inside the Museum

As for the art, there’s lots of good stuff on display. Any post I write about art has to include Andy Warhol. They have one of Warhol’s Brillo boxes here. (To see the rest, visit the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.)

warhol brillo

A naked torso looks out on those arriving to the main wing.

torso corridor

More nudity. Hide your kids, hide your wife!

nude sculpture

The piece on the left is just a black square. If my notes are correct, it’s “Abstract Painting” by Ad Reinhardt. It’s one of those pieces you sometimes see at museums that makes you say, Wait a minute… I could have made that!

abstract paintings

I like the modern art because it’s so strange.

modern art

Some of the art overlooks the lake.

art lake - milwaukee art museum parking garage

Whether it’s a sports hall of fame or ancient art sculptures, I’m a fan of busts.

art sculpture

Milwaukee Art Museum specifics

The facility is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 10-5, with extended hours on Thursdays. Base price for adults is $19. Students, seniors, and military get a $2 discount, while kids under age 12 are free. Also, admission is totally free on the first Thursday of every month.

Among the collections are a room full of pre-1900 decorative arts, including a lot of furniture; an impressive selection of photography; American folk art; Renaissance and Baroque pieces; and prints and drawings dating back at least 500 years. Nearly 20,000 works are housed in the place.

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The museum gets bonus points because photography is allowed in almost every room, aside from a few exhibits. I would highly recommend a visit.

large painting - milwaukee art museum after dark

At Milwaukee Art Museum After Dark events, you can check out the art while sipping cocktails and socializing.

Milwaukee Art Museum Parking Options

Art museum parking can be found in a garage below the facility. As of 2020, parking is $7 for up to two hours inside the museum. The cost goes up to $9 for three hours, and for $11 you can stay up to six hours.

You can also use street parking to avoid paying altogether. The museum’s location along the lake makes finding free parking a bit challenging. If you’re willing to walk over from Westown or Haymarket, you may be able to snag free street parking. If not, use this site to look for cheap paid lots downtown.

Milwaukee Art Museum After Dark

On the last Friday of most months, the museum presents its After Dark event. It’s an evening shindig for adults with cocktails, dancing, music, and other fun stuff. Tickets are usually $19 and can be purchased here.

Each event has a different theme. Recent events included a masquerade ball and a pajama party. Now that’s a cool way to spend a night in a museum! And if you stay sober enough, you can check out their Saturday morning yoga sessions the following morning!

Make sure while you’re in town to check out the Bronze Fonzie statue and the Harley Davidson Museum.

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend Booking.com where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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