mail location clock phone-call message confetti star food restaurant restaurant-1 store shop-bag pine hotel cocktail balloon graduation sparkler cake birthday-cake invitation spotlight party-hat lamp wedding-rings press-conference circle-checkmark person drama calendar tree blue-checkmark Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin down-arrow star video-play account cart chevron video_play facebook-share linkedin-share twitter-share select-down

Press Release

MOWA donor honored with community free day

For Media & Press June 30, 2023

(WEST BEND, WISCONSIN) – In honor of longtime Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) supporter and friend, the museum will be free to the public on Sunday, July 9 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Betty Nelson.

The Museum of Wisconsin Art is also encouraging patrons and community members to deliver or send birthday cards to MOWA for Betty.

Address cards to:
Betty Nelson
Museum of Wisconsin Art
205 Veterans Ave.
West Bend, WI 53095

Nelson’s generous contributions to the museum have allowed MOWA to celebrate the incredible achievements of Wisconsin artists and provide an accessible, one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. Donors like Nelson keep MOWA an affordable, high-quality experience that attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year to the West Bend Mothership and its satellite locations throughout the state.

A birthday celebration will take place at MOWA on Sunday, July 9 at 1:30. Remarks will be made by Joel Ongert, Mayor of West Bend, Peter Ziegler, member and former president of the West Bend Community Foundation, and Prudence Pick Hway, member and former president of the MOWA board.

Nelson has been a staple of the West Bend community for a considerable portion of her 100 years. Her gifts to the museum and the community of West Bend continue through the Cliff and Betty Nelson Leadership Awards, her many contributions to local nonprofits, and her countless philanthropic efforts.

Join MOWA as we celebrate the birthday and generosity of Betty Nelson. For more information, visit

Biographical Highlights

Elizabeth “Betty” McCargo was born in Brockport, New York, in 1923.  She came to West Bend in 1927 when her father was transferred by A&P to manage the company’s White House Milk condensed milk factory.  Betty’s mother, Bessie, had a degree in art and music education from Syracuse University.  When Betty’s family arrived in West Bend, there were no art or music classes in the schools.  Her mother persuaded the school board to hire the district’s first art teacher.

Perhaps because of her mother’s influence, Betty developed a love of art and music.  She learned to play the piano at an early age, and continued to play throughout her life.  She sang in the Fifth Avenue United Methodist Church Choir for nearly 60 years.

When The Museum of Wisconsin Art (formerly the West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts) opened, Betty volunteered to develop a program to bring fine art prints to local first and second grade classes, becoming known to the school children as the “Art Lady.”

Betty and her husband Cliff supported numerous charitable organizations throughout their lives together.  This support has had an enduring impact on the quality of life in West Bend and Washington County through numerous organizations including the Kettle Moraine YMCA, United Way, Boys & Girls Club, West Bend Community Foundation and, of course, the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

Following Cliff’s death in 2001, Betty continued her lifelong commitment to enhancing the artistic and social life of the West Bend.