If you’re an art and culture lover, you’ve ended up in the right place! Wisconsin is filled with many beautiful places to get out and explore the art and culture that lies right in front of us. From beautiful museums to events in small local communities, it’s truly a hidden gem that Wisconsin holds. Let’s get into how you can get out and explore local art and culture throughout the state of Wisconsin now!
On the campus of the University of Wisconsin in downtown Madison lies the beautiful Chazen Museum of Art. And if you love artwork, beautiful views, and immersing yourself in a dynamic art gallery, this is definitely the place for you! The Chazen is a free museum that allows all visitors (not just students) to come as you are and feel free as you explore.
The Chazen Museum of Art initially opened its doors in 1970 and was known as the Elvehjem Art Center until 2005 when the museum expanded and was renamed. This expansive building holds the state’s second-largest collection of art and truly is a masterpiece in itself.
At the Chazen Museum of Art, you can expect to see many exhibitions that change every so often. Along with that, the museum hosts events all throughout the year such as Family Fridays and Artist Chats. Learn more about events happening when you’re planning your visit here. You may be wondering… so what can I see in the collection when I visit the museum? There are over 23,000 pieces of art that represent history, culture, and so much more! You can find out more about the specific collections on-site at the Chazen Museum of Art by clicking here.
Our host, Alex Wehrley, shares her take on this visit to the Chazen Museum of Art:
“The Chazen Museum of Art is such a hidden gem in Madison. Everything from the art to the atmosphere creates fun surprises, making for the perfect stop when exploring The University of Wisconsin-Madison.”
Next up on our list of must-visit museums in Wisconsin is up in Sturgeon Bay of Door County… The Door County Maritime Museum! This museum truly shows the history of one of Door County’s biggest industries and rich maritime roots. When making your next visit to the maritime museum, you can see how these maritime pioneers worked and have a much deeper appreciation for the area and Door County while visiting this time and in the future!
At the Door County Maritime Museum, you can visit and experience a lot of different exhibits but one thing you can’t miss out on is the 102-year-old tugboat, John Purves. You can go out on a guided tour that is conducted by the same people who have been working on the restoration over the years!
Along with the historic tugboat, you can explore four different exhibits in the Door County Maritime Museum. The Tower, the newest addition, is a 10-story exhibit that tells the maritime history of Door County from the very beginning all the way to the working port of today! And let us tell ya, this is one part you don’t want to miss out on. You will learn something new in every chapter including things from the people, geological formations, commerce, navigation, shipbuilding, shipwrecks, and so much more!
Discover Wisconsin host, Josh Casey, shares his thoughts about his time on set at the Door County Maritime Museum:
"It was fascinating to learn all about the maritime history in Door County. I loved seeing the models of ships, hearing about all the lighthouses, shipwrecks, and of course climbing aboard Tugboat John Purves."
The small town of Cedarburg is located just outside of Milwaukee and boasts an entire culture of historic pieces throughout the town! Cedarburg is known for its historical charm and the main street that is home to buildings from the 1800s. They have been named to the National Register of Historic Places which brings a lot of pride to the area. In Cedarburg, the Cedarburg Artists Guild is working hard to preserve and restore the historic pieces that make the town what it is.
One fun event in Cedarburg where you can watch paintings come to life is the Paint Cedarburg event that happens every June. This annual Plein air painting event brings in over 165 Plein air artists to the charming city where they capture beautiful historical structures, countryside hills, local shops, and more! These artists use oils, watercolors, pastels, and more to create their own masterpieces right in the heart of Cedarburg.
When visiting, you can feel the true sense of history between the local shops, restaurants, beautiful buildings, and artists surrounding you. It will feel almost like you are going back in time which is a truly special piece of Cedarburg.
Alex Wehrley also explored Cedarburg with the Discover Wisconsin crew and shares her thoughts:
“Cedarburg is one of my favorite towns in Wisconsin thanks to its charm, history, and art scene. The talent and community are on full display at the museum. Paint Cedarburg is the perfect time to explore the museum and all the other stops on their quaint Main St.”
Just southeast of Madison is the beautiful town of Cambridge which has a rich history of pottery and many community members that have kept that tradition alive! One shop specifically is Cambridge Wood-Fired Pottery. This pottery shop was first established in 1989 with the sole purpose of creating wood-fired pottery that was inspired by the shapes and practices of Asian and European folk pottery.
Mark Skudlarek, the owner and potter, produces a wide range of functional tableware and garden pots by firing twice a year! Originally, Mark was interested in painting but soon found his interest in clay after taking a ceramics course in college. He then traveled to central France where he was able to work in the historic pottery village of La Borne and got his true experience firing wood-burning kilns! Nowadays at his local shop and home in Cambridge, Mark hosts kiln openings twice a year where you can view and purchase his homemade work.
Ready to plan your visit to Cambridge Wood-Fired Pottery? Be sure to first check out the Process section of their website by clicking here where you can see firsthand what will happen when you drop by! Then, make sure to give the shop a call and let them know that you plan to stop by.
Discover Wisconsin host Josh Casey, who got to experience the Cambridge Wood-Fired Pottery for himself. Here’s what he had to say about his time on this part of production:
"Mark is a true artisan, his hands involved in every part of the process. It’s clear how much he loves what he does and it shows in what he creates. I’ll never forget the heat blasting out of the giant wood-fired kiln when I got the chance to toss in a handful of logs myself!"
This experience of exploring Wisconsin’s history and culture was truly one that everyone needs to embark on! Bryce Erlandson, Discover Wisconsin’s lead producer, headed out on every journey of the set to learn more about the art and history we have while directing the episode. Here are his thoughts on the entire production from start to finish:
“Filming for our Wisconsin Arts & Culture episode was so much fun! We had been collecting segments all across the state for almost a year and I can't believe that it's already been released to the world now. I still think of new places and activities that we should go film all the time and so maybe a sequel will be needed in the future…”
Wisconsin is filled with many art, culture, and historic hotspots! All the way from Door County to small-town Cambridge, Wisconsin, you can truly find it all within. Where is your favorite place to get out and explore local, regional, and national art in Wisconsin? And where are you planning to adventure next? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to learn more about how you can explore the Chazen Museum of Art, Door County Maritime Museum, Cedarburg Artists Guild, and Cambridge Wood-Fired Pottery? Watch this Discover Wisconsin episode, ‘Wisconsin Arts & Culture’ now:
Kortnee Hass: Social Media Coordinator for Discover Mediaworks. A Wisconsin ‘now & forever’ transplant with a soft spot for squeaky cheese curds, craft breweries, and all things Wisconsin tourism.
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