Milwaukee Art Museum’s new lakefront atrium a gracious, rugged success

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Milwaukee Art Museum's new lakefront atrium a gracious, rugged success

Milwaukee Art Museum's new lakefront atrium a gracious, rugged success

Not everyone who sees the jumbo eraser — a sculpture by Claes Oldenburg — inside the Milwaukee Art Museum‘s new lakefront atrium may get the joke.

Oldenburg’s “Typewriter Eraser,” the most prominently placed sculpture in the museum’s new wing, hints playfully at what the new building is — the result of a big fight and a back-to-the-drawing-board effort by the museum and its architect.

Just completed and set to open to members Nov. 21 and the public Nov. 24, the atrium is a success story. It’s an industrious little building — rugged but restrained, gracious and full of industrial grit.

The atrium is part of a larger $34 million project that also involved a total renovation of all of the museum’s buildings and the first-ever, top-to-bottom reimagining of the art collection.

The museum feels — and in some ways absolutely is — a brand-new place, with a cafe and wine bar on the lake, new feature exhibition spaces and greatly expanded areas for photography, new media, modern art, contemporary works and the American collections (see companion article on the new presentation of the art). […]

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