By Dylan Deprey
The sun shone down into the lobby through the windows of the Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
A steady flow of art enthusiasts stepped through the doors and made their way to get tickets.
The selfie was the photo of choice for those taking pictures beside intricate sculptures in the atrium.
Those making their way towards the new expansion are lead down the corridor by a celebratory red carpet.
After six years of planning and fourteen months of building and renovating, the $34 million expansion was finally opened to the public on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
The expansion was the first major renovation of the museum’s collections.
This also included the War Memorial Center and the 1975 David Kahler building additions.
“It’s incredible how it finally all came together,” Allison Peck, director of communications and marketing, said.
The renovations, updated infrastructure, and added 25,000 sq. ft. of gallery space for exhibits allowed for 2,500 more pieces of work to be displayed.
The expansion also made room for a full display of collections in their entirety.
This includes American artwork dating from colonial times to the present day.
It also includes specific areas for modern and experimental art.
As one walks down the steps to the lowest level of the art museum, the silence is interrupted by constant interjections of, “Wow,” and “That’s amazing!”
The Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media arts displays photography and light and video art.
“We had around 3,000 pieces of work we never had a place for and now we have the space,” Peck said.
The walls are lined with black-and-white photography ranging from everything from men on motorcycles to the description of a used bulletproof vest. These photos tell stories without words.
After following the walls of pictures, there is flashing of black and white blobs emanating from strings of LED lights on the wall.
At first glance it could just be random lights, until you back up.
This is Jim Campbell’s piece, Taxi Ride to Sarah’s. It is the back seat point of view of driving in a taxi.
“People usually don’t know what it is until I finally explain it,” Cecilia Richardson, art museum employee, said.
As one is directed to the dark room on left, the smell of sweet smoke hits the nostrils.
Anthony McCall’s You and I, Horizontal is a cone-like light projected through a slow ominous moving fog.
“This type of art isn’t just paintings on the wall,” Richardson said. “It’s different, it’s interactive.”
Along with the additions, there are hands-on activities for families.
The Kohl’s Art Generation Lab is a space for children to learn about Haitian culture and the art that comes from it.
There is also the Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery: Rubbish! This display shows children how artists have transformed garbage into pieces of art.
As one makes their way back upstairs the light from the setting sun touches the new addition. This gives a never before seen, breathtaking view of Lake Michigan.
“It’s one of the most incredible places in the city. There is a sense of fun and discovery that access the beautiful views of Lake Michigan,” Peck said.
She also described how visitors to the museum were “blown away” at the new transformations of the building.
She encourages people who don’t know much about art to come and explore.
“It was designed as a place for all to come together. It’s for people to bring family and friends and just relax,” Peck said.