The Paine is an historic estate in Oshkosh, Wisconsin surrounded by gardens and home to an art gallery. The Paine mansion was the 1920’s home of Nathan and Jessie Kimberly Paine. Built between 1927 and 1930, the Tudor revival style estate was designed by the New York architect Bryant Fleming to pay homage to the Paine’s English heritage. The mansion was built to reflect three centuries of English architecture. Likewise, while the furnishings were mainly custom designed in the 1920’s, pieces were built to reflect centuries of design, and many were upholstered in antique fabrics to emphasize the illusion of age. In accordance with the custom of elite homes of the time, first floor spaces were designed for public receptions, and even included a public art gallery, while upstairs living quarters were private. The mansion also includes staff living and service areas.
The Paine’s permanent collection includes over one thousand works of art, from painting and sculpture, to decorative arts and furniture. Inside the mansion, the hallways are decorated with paintings from the Paine’s original art collection. Most of the works, purchased in the 1920’s, represent American landscapes from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, as well as several works from the French Barbizon school, known for its realist landscapes from the mid to late 1800’s. Highlights include ‘A Stream in Wales,’ a 1920’s painting by American impressionist Wilson Henry Irvine, and a watercolor by Winslow Homer, ‘Lake St. John, Canasa.’ ‘The Watering Place’ is a Barbizon school painting by Emile van Marcke de Lummen. ‘Evening in the Hamlet of Finistere,’ by the French painter Jules Breton is considered one of the most important works in the Paine collection.
The gardens surrounding the estate offer a variety of intimate and grand spaces. The Paine’s planted over 500 trees as the home was being built; many are evergreens and provide the home a sense of privacy and seclusion. Perennial gardens showcase plants, shrubs and trees native to Wisconsin. Annual gardens are inspired by English horticulture and showcase a variety of plants and flowers depending on the season. A new, formal garden was added in 2017. The new garden, inspired by English country estates, reflects the architecture of the Paine’s home as well as that of a new conservatory, which was built in 2012. Sculptures throughout the gardens represent the Paine’s original collection and include recent acquisitions and donations.
History: In the 1920’s Nathan Paine was president of his family’s lumber business, the Paine Lumber Company, which at the time employed over two thousand people in Wisconsin. His wife, Jessie Kimberly, was the daughter of the co-founder of Kimberly-Clark, the growing paper goods business. The Paine’s never lived in the Oshkosh estate. From the start, their plans included opening the home as a museum and cultural center. Construction was completed in 1930, but with Paine’s company faltering under the weight of the Great Depression, the home was largely ignored until 1946, when it was finally incorporated as a museum. Mr. Paine died in 1947, and at his request, Jessie continued to work on readying the home for public viewing. The estate opened as a museum in 1948, with Mrs. Paine acting as president until her death at the age of 100 in 1973. Today, The Paine Art Center and Gardens operates as a non-profit organization and is overseen by a Board of Trustees, a professional staff and many volunteers. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the museum is accredited with the American Alliance of Museums.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The mansion, the nineteen different gardens and the adjacent natural area may be toured with self-guided tours, or guided tours. Themed tours take place throughout the year, including Holiday Tours, Candlelight Tours and others. Group tours of all sizes are welcome with advance reservations. The Paine is available for wedding, event and meeting rental. Events may take place in the mansion, the conservatory or carriage house, or throughout the gardens.
Past and Future Exhibits: The Paine’s main gallery hosts a rotating schedule of exhibitions, from classic to contemporary art. Past exhibits have included a decorative arts exhibit of Russian Imperial Porcelain Easter Eggs, original first-edition prints of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, and the contemporary photographs and video work of English artist Kirsty Mitchell. Exhibits rotate every three to six months.
1410 Algoma Blvd Oshkosh, WI 54901Bottom of Form, Phone: 920-235-6903
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