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Museums in Wisconsin

About Us

Allow us to introduce ourselves

A vital cultural center, educational institution, an expanding network of ideas, the Museum of Wisconsin Art collects and interprets American art through the lens of a single state.

Informed by dynamic initiatives and collaborations, MOWA is an innovative forum for contemporary artists, socially relevant exhibitions, lectures by artists and industry experts, and engaging classes and activities for all ages.


Our Story

Melitta Hedwig Suder-Pick (1886–1972)—a woman clearly ahead of her time—founded MOWA in 1961 to house the work of her uncle, the venerable artist Carl von Marr. Suder-Pick passionately believed that creating a legacy would improve future lives and communities. Six decades later and way down the road from these humble beginnings, MOWA museums in Wisconsin are still guided by her unconventional, forward-thinking, and heartfelt conviction.

The “West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts” began life as a family enterprise in the former headquarters of West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, a late-1930s Colonial-style office building on the edge of downtown West Bend. Some three hundred Marr paintings and drawings constituted the founding collection. Suder-Pick served as an informal director and her daughters, Joan Marr Pick and Melitta Suder Pick, worked as receptionists on the Sunday afternoons and Monday and Friday evenings when the museum was open.

Under artist Edward Kocher, the museum’s first full-time director (1967–1982), the museum initiated a few mostly local and regional exhibitions a year, along with a bevy of studio classes and lectures. In 1976, enclosing an existing courtyard created more gallery space for a growing Marr collection, notably his most famous and spectacular painting, The Flagellants (1885–89).

Under director (1983–2013) Tom Lidtke, the museum revised its mission in 1988 to expand the collection to include Wisconsin art from 1800 to 1950. In 1993, the institution formally changed its name to the West Bend Art Museum, a subtle distinction that reflected an expanded mission and reach. Five years later, the museum unveiled a seed collection of early Wisconsin art in conjunction with Wisconsin’s Sesquicentennial, establishing the museum as a leader in the field.

By the early 2000s, the museum had outgrown its current facilities and its evolving mission needed to be defined. In 2007, the organization was renamed the Museum of Wisconsin Art to express its inclusivity. The decision to build a new home soon followed. Different locations were considered, but the decision to remain in its founding city of West Bend expressed the commitment to serve as an economic catalyst for a community once built on industry but increasingly in transition. The museum purchased four acres in the city’s heart that for over a decade was the site of a defunct outlet mall.

The new Museum of Wisconsin Art—MOWA—opened in 2013 and transformed the community, with two pedestrian bridges linking stunning gardens and sculptures to the shops and restaurants on Main Street. A Wisconsin destination, MOWA welcomes almost two hundred thousand visitors annually to West Bend and its satellite location and community partners throughout the state. MOWA | DTN, the museum’s satellite location in Milwaukee, is an especially exciting contemporary platform for emerging art and artists.

Laurie Winters, who became director in 2012, has dynamically extended the already expanded definition of “Wisconsin art” to include unexpected connections that give new meaning to the concept of “place”: industry, geography, heritage, immigration—fresh lenses and voices through which to envision art of the region.

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The Building

Jim Shields of HGA Architects designed MOWA’s strikingly modern building.

Opened in 2013 in the heart of downtown West Bend, it has become the architectural centerpiece of the community, a destination for visitors and tourists from the far corners of the state and beyond.

Architecture & Gardens

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Land Acknowledgment Statement

The Museum of Wisconsin Art stands on the ancestral lands of the Potawatomi and Menominee people. We pay respects to their elders past and present and acknowledge the Potawatomi and Menominee people who have stewarded this land through the generations.

A rapidly expanding network of locations and community partners.


MOWA | West Bend

The Mothership

The museum’s primary venue—the modernist “Mothership”—rests along the Milwaukee River in downtown West Bend. Since the 2013 opening of this new building and surrounding campus, MOWA has become an economic catalyst for the heartland community, drawing visitors and tourists to the area’s charming restaurants and shops from the far corners of the state and beyond.


205 Veterans Avenue
West Bend, WI 53095


Mon, Tues: Closed
Wed-Sun: 9:30–4:00*



The museum satellite MOWA | DTN opened in 2019 in the Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel in downtown Milwaukee’s cultural district. Exhibitions of new and emerging art have helped make the Saint Kate one of the most dynamic and highly rated hotels in the Midwest.


139 East Kilbourn Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Mon-Thurs: 4:00–10:00
Fri-Sat: 9:00–Midnight
Sun: 9:00–6:00

In a neighborhood near you.

In addition to its primary venues, MOWA partners with community organizations to make its programs and collections accessible and free of charge in neighborhoods throughout the state.


MOWA | Governor’s Residence


In Madison, MOWA partners with the Governor and First Lady on an annually curated exhibition in the Governor’s Residence, where Wisconsin art can be enjoyed on public tours as well as at official gatherings and diplomatic dinners—an opportunity to showcase a state that supports the arts and especially the arts of our state.


99 Cambridge Rd
Madison, WI 53704


Guided Tours Available

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MOWA on the Lake


For more than a decade, the trendy retirement campus of Saint John’s on the Lake in downtown Milwaukee has partnered with MOWA in hosting exhibitions, talks, and programs that affirm our shared conviction in the importance of art at every age.


1840 N Prospect Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Open to the public from 9:00–7:00, seven days a week. No admission fee.

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