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Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee Arts: Art Scene in Milwaukee

Rich in German and Polish American culture and traditions, Milwaukee is one of the Midwest’s largest and most lively cities. Despite being home to almost one million residents, the city hass a cozy, hometown feel. But it also boasts a remarkably dense concentration of fine art, dance and musical institutions, and the Milwaukee Rep (the city’s regional theater) is considered to be one of the finest in the nation. Moreover, in recent years it has added chic hotels and intriguing eateries to go along with its beautifully designed lakefront.

Arts Info

  • Journal Sentinel—Milwaukee daily has great arts and entertainment coverage
  • OnMilwaukee.com—Daily magazine and entertainment guide with events calendar and local arts coverage that includes features, reviews, and blog posts
  • Metro Milwaukee—Comprehensive list of links to local arts organizations
  • Theatre Wisconsin—An alliance of non-profit professional theatres in Wisconsin with a comprehensive online schedule of performances, links to those theatres, and “hot tickets” (discounts).
  • Third Coast Digest – arts, news and culture guide for Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin

Art Museums

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum has a fascinatingly varied mix of offerings that include impressive collections of photography, American decorative art, German expressionist prints, Haitian art, American folk art, and sculpture and decorative art from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. All this is in addition to many fine European and American paintings and drawings from several eras. Monet, Degas, Rodin, Picasso, Rothko, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Winslow Homer are just …more…

Paine Art Center

Paine Art Center and Gardens (Oshkosh, WI)

In the early years of the 20th century, Nathan and Jessie Kimberly Paine intended the mansion, gardens, and surrounding architectural structures that now comprise the Paine Art Center and Gardens as their future home; it would be open to the public as a cultural center, but would also function as a residence. Then the Depression came, and the place fell into neglect; it was only in 1946, a year before Nathan Paine died, that a deal was finalized to establish the Paine as a museum, by which time the Paines had given up on the idea of living there. ...more...

Theater

First Stage Milwaukee

First Stage

Since its inaugural season in 1987, First Stage has grown to become one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee.  First Stage touches hearts and transforms lives through professional theater productions that engage, enlighten and entertain.  Committed to new play development, First Stage has presented nearly 40 world premieres in its history and has collaborated with renowned artists including Harry Connick Jr. …more…

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre was founded in 1975 by local actors Montgomery Davis and Ruth Schudson, who envisioned a place where audiences could open their minds to new ideas and Milwaukee’s theatre professionals could broaden their skills and apply their craft. After functioning as a “roving” company for 18 years, MCT moved into the Broadway Theatre Center in 1993.

Memorable productions during Davis’s tenure as artistic director …more…

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Milwaukee Repertory Theatre

The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre was founded in 1954 as the Fred Miller Theatre; the name change in the late ‘50s reflected a growing emphasis on a broad selection of classics and contemporary plays and a commitment to nurturing a resident acting company. The Rep’s current home, a converted power plant, encompasses the 720-seat Quadracci Powerhouse Theater, the 218-seat Stiemke Theater, and the 118-seat Stackner …more…

Next Act Theatre

Next Act Theatre

Next Act’s mission is to produce plays that bring social, cultural and political issues to the center of the community debate. Formed in 1990 by a merger of Theatre Tesseract and Next Generation, the company annually offers a four-play season of contemporary drama chosen from the best new works and off-Broadway hits.

In 2009-2010, Next Act marked its 20th season and its 10th year of staging …more…

Renaissance Theaterworks

Renaissance Theaterworks

Founded in 1993 by Susan Fete, Marie Kohler, Raeleen McMillion, Jennifer Rupp, and Michelle Traband, Renaissance Theaterworks is billed as Milwaukee’s only women-founded, women-run theatre company. Its mission is to focus on women’s roles onstage and off in creating productions of works ranging from classics to world premieres. RTW is inclusive in its hiring practices and uses the talents of …more…

Classical Music

Bel Canto Chorus

Bel Canto Chorus

Bel Canto Chorus brings some of the finest choral repertoire to the Milwaukee area as it has done since the early 1930’s. From humble beginnings, the ranks of Bel Canto have swelled to around 100 singers performing in each season concert. Under the direction of Richard Hynson, the ensemble has gained a reputation for superb performances of rarely heard works like Kirke Mechem’s Songs of the Slave and Joseph Baber’s …more…

Milwaukee Choral Artists

Milwaukee Choral Artists

Milwaukee Choral Artists (MCA) is one of Wisconsin’s premier choral ensembles, and one of only five professional women’s choral ensembles in the U.S. The ensemble frequently performs both old favorites alongside rarely heard and newly commissioned works and regularly collaborates with other Milwaukee-area organizations.

MCA began in 1998 as a small ensemble of professional singers. Toda it is comprised of 21 …more…

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the largest cultural organization in Wisconsin, was formed in 1959. Since then it has become one of the nation’s leading symphonic ensembles, with 88 full-time musicians performing more than 140 concerts per season.

The MSO has aired its acclaimed, nationally syndicated radio broadcasts since the early 1980s and has been a pioneer in the online market for classical recordings. Kinderkonzerts, Youth and …more…

Opera

Florentine Opera Company

Florentine Opera Company

John Anello, a young Milwaukee musician, took over the city’s just-founded Italian Opera Chorus in 1933. Anello quickly elevated the group—Wisconsin’s oldest performing arts organization and the nation’s sixth-oldest opera company—beyond its recreational roots to provide public performances. He soon changed the name to Florentine Opera Chorus to honor “the birthplace of opera as we know it.”

Its first fully staged production, La Traviata, was …more…

Skylight Opera Theatre

Skylight Opera Theatre

Skylight has one of the most colorful histories of any company in the nation. Its genesis came during a party in the late 1950s, when some friends lamented the paucity of culture in Milwaukee. They put together $2,000 and opened a coffeehouse. A surprise hit of Gilbert and Sullivan selections in the space’s second floor launched what soon became the present company. With seemingly boundless …more…

Jazz

Caroline’s Jazz Club

Caroline’s Jazz Club

Caroline’s Jazz Club, with its a dark and intimate jazz club atmosphere, is one of the places to go to experience Milwaukee’s local musical flavors. Live music is presented four nights a week, with a familiar and often-repeating roster of performers.  Onstage is music ranging from blues jams led by local veterans to straight-ahead jazz by local jazz scene stalwarts.  One feature …more…

Dance

Ko-Thi Dance Company

Ko-Thi Dance Company

The Ko-Thi Dance Company is an African and Caribbean dance company that specializes in teaching and performing these forms of dance to both adults and children, offering classes, workshops, lectures, and concerts. Based in Milwaukee, the company tours around the nation and the world. ...more...

Milwaukee Ballet

Milwaukee Ballet

Since its inaugural performance in 1970, Milwaukee Ballet has made a conscientious effort to bring both classic and contemporary ballet works to local audiences. The company’s annual season is generally comprised of five productions totalling approximately thirty performances. These include popular story ballets and virtuosic abstract works in the fall and spring, the annual holiday Nutcracker throughout the month of December, and at least …more…

Multi-Arts Festivals

Indian Summer Festival

Indian Summer Festival

(September)

Indian Summer Festival Information

Public Transportation: Fair (closest bus is route 11 at Young Street/Erie Street, which is a 10-minute walk)
Handicapped Accessibility: Good
Performances/Programs: Performance schedule varies
Ticket Prices: Adults – $12; Seniors (Age 60+) – $10 at the gate; Children 12 and under – Free.

Venues

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Milwaukee’s Marcus Center is one of the most colorful venues on the U.S. performing arts center circuit. It is home to many of Wisconsin’s premiere arts companies, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet Company, Florentine Opera Company, First Stage Milwaukee, and the United Performing Arts Fund.

In its forty-year history, the Marcus Center has hosted a diversity of events, …more…

The Milwaukee Theatre

The Milwaukee Theatre

The Milwaukee Theatre hosts music acts, family shows, touring plays and musicals, comedy and magic performances, and more. The building, which opened in 1909, can seat more than 4,000 people, though it can be configured for much fewer…The building was originally the “Milwaukee Auditorium”. ...more...

Art Museums

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum has a fascinatingly varied mix of offerings that include impressive collections of photography, American decorative art, German expressionist prints, Haitian art, American folk art, and sculpture and decorative art from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. All this is in addition to many fine European and American paintings and drawings from several eras. Monet, Degas, Rodin, Picasso, Rothko, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Winslow Homer are just …more…

Paine Art Center

Paine Art Center and Gardens (Oshkosh, WI)

In the early years of the 20th century, Nathan and Jessie Kimberly Paine intended the mansion, gardens, and surrounding architectural structures that now comprise the Paine Art Center and Gardens as their future home; it would be open to the public as a cultural center, but would also function as a residence. Then the Depression came, and the place fell into neglect; it was only in 1946, a year before Nathan Paine died, that a deal was finalized to establish the Paine as a museum, by which time the Paines had given up on the idea of living there. ...more...

Theater

First Stage Milwaukee

First Stage

Since its inaugural season in 1987, First Stage has grown to become one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee.  First Stage touches hearts and transforms lives through professional theater productions that engage, enlighten and entertain.  Committed to new play development, First Stage has presented nearly 40 world premieres in its history and has collaborated with renowned artists including Harry Connick Jr. …more…

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre was founded in 1975 by local actors Montgomery Davis and Ruth Schudson, who envisioned a place where audiences could open their minds to new ideas and Milwaukee’s theatre professionals could broaden their skills and apply their craft. After functioning as a “roving” company for 18 years, MCT moved into the Broadway Theatre Center in 1993.

Memorable productions during Davis’s tenure as artistic director …more…

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Milwaukee Repertory Theatre

The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre was founded in 1954 as the Fred Miller Theatre; the name change in the late ‘50s reflected a growing emphasis on a broad selection of classics and contemporary plays and a commitment to nurturing a resident acting company. The Rep’s current home, a converted power plant, encompasses the 720-seat Quadracci Powerhouse Theater, the 218-seat Stiemke Theater, and the 118-seat Stackner …more…

Next Act Theatre

Next Act Theatre

Next Act’s mission is to produce plays that bring social, cultural and political issues to the center of the community debate. Formed in 1990 by a merger of Theatre Tesseract and Next Generation, the company annually offers a four-play season of contemporary drama chosen from the best new works and off-Broadway hits.

In 2009-2010, Next Act marked its 20th season and its 10th year of staging …more…

Renaissance Theaterworks

Renaissance Theaterworks

Founded in 1993 by Susan Fete, Marie Kohler, Raeleen McMillion, Jennifer Rupp, and Michelle Traband, Renaissance Theaterworks is billed as Milwaukee’s only women-founded, women-run theatre company. Its mission is to focus on women’s roles onstage and off in creating productions of works ranging from classics to world premieres. RTW is inclusive in its hiring practices and uses the talents of …more…

Classical Music

Bel Canto Chorus

Bel Canto Chorus

Bel Canto Chorus brings some of the finest choral repertoire to the Milwaukee area as it has done since the early 1930’s. From humble beginnings, the ranks of Bel Canto have swelled to around 100 singers performing in each season concert. Under the direction of Richard Hynson, the ensemble has gained a reputation for superb performances of rarely heard works like Kirke Mechem’s Songs of the Slave and Joseph Baber’s …more…

Milwaukee Choral Artists

Milwaukee Choral Artists

Milwaukee Choral Artists (MCA) is one of Wisconsin’s premier choral ensembles, and one of only five professional women’s choral ensembles in the U.S. The ensemble frequently performs both old favorites alongside rarely heard and newly commissioned works and regularly collaborates with other Milwaukee-area organizations.

MCA began in 1998 as a small ensemble of professional singers. Toda it is comprised of 21 …more…

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the largest cultural organization in Wisconsin, was formed in 1959. Since then it has become one of the nation’s leading symphonic ensembles, with 88 full-time musicians performing more than 140 concerts per season.

The MSO has aired its acclaimed, nationally syndicated radio broadcasts since the early 1980s and has been a pioneer in the online market for classical recordings. Kinderkonzerts, Youth and …more…

Opera

Florentine Opera Company

Florentine Opera Company

John Anello, a young Milwaukee musician, took over the city’s just-founded Italian Opera Chorus in 1933. Anello quickly elevated the group—Wisconsin’s oldest performing arts organization and the nation’s sixth-oldest opera company—beyond its recreational roots to provide public performances. He soon changed the name to Florentine Opera Chorus to honor “the birthplace of opera as we know it.”

Its first fully staged production, La Traviata, was …more…

Skylight Opera Theatre

Skylight Opera Theatre

Skylight has one of the most colorful histories of any company in the nation. Its genesis came during a party in the late 1950s, when some friends lamented the paucity of culture in Milwaukee. They put together $2,000 and opened a coffeehouse. A surprise hit of Gilbert and Sullivan selections in the space’s second floor launched what soon became the present company. With seemingly boundless …more…

Jazz

Caroline’s Jazz Club

Caroline’s Jazz Club

Caroline’s Jazz Club, with its a dark and intimate jazz club atmosphere, is one of the places to go to experience Milwaukee’s local musical flavors. Live music is presented four nights a week, with a familiar and often-repeating roster of performers.  Onstage is music ranging from blues jams led by local veterans to straight-ahead jazz by local jazz scene stalwarts.  One feature …more…

Dance

Ko-Thi Dance Company

Ko-Thi Dance Company

The Ko-Thi Dance Company is an African and Caribbean dance company that specializes in teaching and performing these forms of dance to both adults and children, offering classes, workshops, lectures, and concerts. Based in Milwaukee, the company tours around the nation and the world. ...more...

Milwaukee Ballet

Milwaukee Ballet

Since its inaugural performance in 1970, Milwaukee Ballet has made a conscientious effort to bring both classic and contemporary ballet works to local audiences. The company’s annual season is generally comprised of five productions totalling approximately thirty performances. These include popular story ballets and virtuosic abstract works in the fall and spring, the annual holiday Nutcracker throughout the month of December, and at least …more…

Multi-Arts Festivals

Indian Summer Festival

Indian Summer Festival

(September)

Indian Summer Festival Information

Public Transportation: Fair (closest bus is route 11 at Young Street/Erie Street, which is a 10-minute walk)
Handicapped Accessibility: Good
Performances/Programs: Performance schedule varies
Ticket Prices: Adults – $12; Seniors (Age 60+) – $10 at the gate; Children 12 and under – Free.

Venues

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Milwaukee’s Marcus Center is one of the most colorful venues on the U.S. performing arts center circuit. It is home to many of Wisconsin’s premiere arts companies, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet Company, Florentine Opera Company, First Stage Milwaukee, and the United Performing Arts Fund.

In its forty-year history, the Marcus Center has hosted a diversity of events, …more…

The Milwaukee Theatre

The Milwaukee Theatre

The Milwaukee Theatre hosts music acts, family shows, touring plays and musicals, comedy and magic performances, and more. The building, which opened in 1909, can seat more than 4,000 people, though it can be configured for much fewer…The building was originally the “Milwaukee Auditorium”. ...more...