In the 1870s Milwaukee, Wisconsin was a lively industrial city that lacked a concentration of art. So, in 1972 a group of organizations came together to bring art and culture to Milwaukee. One of the members, Frederick Layton, played a critical role in establishing a prominent art scene in Milwaukee. Layton hired renowned British architects, W. J. and G. A. Audsley, as well as compiling a collection of 38 paintings to create the first permanent art gallery in Milwaukee, named the Layton Art Gallery.
Shortly after Layton founded his art gallery, the Milwaukee Art Association was founded. The Milwaukee Art Association quickly moved to a new building near the Layton Art Gallery and changed their name to the Milwaukee Art Society. By 1914, the Milwaukee Art Society was extremely popular and offered a variety of special events and educational programs to the general public. Then, in 1916 the Milwaukee Art Society changed their name, once again, to the Milwaukee Art Institute.
Following the educational standard set by the Milwaukee Art Institute, the Layton Art Gallery began creating innovative programs under the gallery’s director, Charlotte Partridge. As the Layton Art Gallery began to grow, the Milwaukee Art Institute’s director, Alfred Pelikan, began to form a partnership with the members of the Layton Art Gallery. This partnership grew until the late 1950s when the Milwaukee Art Institute and Layton Art Gallery merged together, which created the Milwaukee Art Center.
Throughout the late 1960s to the early 1980s, the Milwaukee Art Center continued to expand architecturally, educationally, and artistically. Large donations from renowned art collectors, such as Mrs. Harry (Peg) Lynde Bradley, helped the Milwaukee Art Center expand. Finally, in the early 1980s, the Milwaukee Art Center became officially recognized by the American Association of Museums and became known as the Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo: Milwaukee Art Museum
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