Milwaukee Arts: Expect the Unexpected

The Haggerty Museum. Photo by Visit Milwaukee
The Haggerty Museum of Art. Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Haggerty Museum of Art

At Marquette University’s urban campus, you will be delighted to discover the modern temporary exhibits on display at the Haggerty Museum of Art. In its permanent collection, they have 4,000 pieces with some on display, but the driver here is the celebration of contemporary artists, many of them Wisconsin natives as well as artists from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

While on campus, take the time to walk around the lovely greens and be sure to visit the St. Joan of Arc Chapel. This European medieval structure was built south of Lyon in France and survived the several conflicts before finding its way to the United States.

Painstakingly reassembled in Long Island in 1926, the St. Joan of Arc Chapel remained there (escaping a fire in yet another close call) until Mr. and Mrs. Marc J. Rojtman took over that estate and donated it to the University in 1964. Rebuilt yet again in 1965, it’s a beloved and sacred place.

The Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Photo by Visit Milwaukee
The Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Florentine Opera Company

Milwaukee happens to be home to the country’s 6th oldest opera company, the Florentine Opera Company.  Several productions are performed each season at downtown’s Marcus Center for the performing arts. Founded in 1933, it is the oldest fully professional performing arts organization in Wisconsin. Notable performers including, Jose Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti and Beverly Sills have shared the stage with this fine group of performers.

For more than 60 years, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater has been recognized nationally as one of the top regional theaters in the country. Drama, comedy, musicals – it’s all here and is seriously entertaining.

Other wonderful performing arts opportunities at the Marcus Center include the Broadway series, and the Milwaukee Ballet, which presents more than 40 performances annually including classics and new works. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is another hometown mainstay, founded in 1959 and performing everything from classics to Disney.

The Wisconsin Avenue Bridge in Milwaukee. Photo by Visit Milwaukee
The Wisconsin Avenue Bridge in Milwaukee. Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Broadway Theatre Center

In the Historic Third Ward, you’ll find the lovely Broadway Theatre Center which features the Cabot Theatre, a replica of an 18th-century European opera house and the smaller Studio Theatre. This is also home to the Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Renaissance Theater works.

Since Milwaukee is known as “Festival City,” you’ll find art and music in many area parks and in the city on the weekends. Keep an eye out for gallery nights, pop-up galleries, street performers and architectural tours.

The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Photo by Visit Milwaukee
The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee has a wonderful collection of Victorian art. Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Where to Stay in Milwaukee

The historic Pfister Hotel has been hosting guests for generations with luxury accommodations, great food and wonderful views (and cocktails) from its Blu Bar, which is located on the 23rd floor with the views of downtown Milwaukee and Lake Michigan.

The Pfister has a marvelous collection of Victorian art. In fact, it’s one of the largest hotel collections of this type and numbers over 80 pieces. Dotting the public areas (and free and open to all), you’ll be delighted in the collection. The Pfister’s love of art does not end there. Since 2009, the hotel has done something very rare – it hosts an artist-in-residence.

Whether you prefer your art on the wall, on the stage, on the street or simply wish to pay homage to the Bronze Fonz, Milwaukee has you covered. Cheese not required.

For more information about visiting Milwaukee, go to: www.visitmilwaukee.org.

Author Bio: Mary Casey-Sturk is a freelance travel, food, wine and features writer based in Greater Cincinnati.  Publications have included: the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Tennessean, Smoky Mountain Living Magazine, Venice Gondolier Sun, Nashville Arts Magazine, Indianapolis Star, Northern Kentucky Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Dayton Parent Magazine, Edible Ohio Valley, Hyde Park Living Magazine and others.