The Museum of Wisconsin Art was founded in 1961 to preserve the paintings of
Carl von Marr, a Milwaukee-born artist. As the years passed, the MWA leaders also
had the foresight to begin collecting early Wisconsin regional art. As a result,
the museum has a prime collection of Wisconsin regional art and the artwork of famous
Under the auspices of developing a Strategic Action Plan, a team of nine volunteer
and staff leaders met to assess potential strategic directions for the museum. On
April 27, 2005, this team presented two recommendations:
- All decisions about the future of the museum will be based on the organization’s
evolving mission, specifically what is best for the art, patrons and community.
- The Museum of Wisconsin Art should emerge as a Museum of Wisconsin Art, with a specific
focus on the works of Carl von Marr.
Since 1961, the Melitta S. Pick Charitable Trust has been the major donor to the
Museum of Wisconsin Art. It was anticipated that the Trust would have provided 61%
of the total budget and 78% of the annual operating costs. With the desire of the
WBAM leadership to become the Museum of Wisconsin Art, the Pick trustees decided
to withdraw its funding all together.
As a result, Museum of Wisconsin Art leadership realized that they must begin to quickly
expand their development activities and not rely heavily on one funding source.
To ensure the museum board is able to fulfill its mission, the leadership requested
a development plan from McDonald Schaefer Group. That plan defined key areas, the
policies and activities necessary to make a difference in the overall income program.
The museum has steadily moved forward with that plan.
Museum of Wisconsin Art’s Natural Evolution
The Museum of Wisconsin Art’s quest to become the Museum of Wisconsin Art is a basic
enhancement of its existing programming efforts. Basically it affects mainly the
museum’s permanent collection. Currently, the museum’s Wisconsin Art Collection
begins around 1830 and concludes with art produced around 1950. Art work has been
produced in Wisconsin since before 800 AD and continues today as a vibrant part
of society. A comprehensive Museum of Wisconsin Art would reflect and celebrate
the finest examples of Wisconsin art from all timeframes, in all media.