The Cool Factor: The New Museum of Wisconsin Art

by Gary John Gresl

Left to right, Maureen Josten, President of the MWA Governing Board; Doug Bade, Mayor of West Bend; Lietenant Governor, Barbara Lawton; Dale Kent, incoming President of the MWA Governing Board; artist Tom Uttech; artist Evelyn Patricia Terry; MWA Executive Director, Tom Lidtke; artist Chuck Dwyer. The artists were part of the event due to joining the celebration by donating work to the collection. The new Museum of Wisconsin Art logo is presented.
She said that! Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton was the keynote speaker at the grand reception for the newly named Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend. In describing the Museum of Wisconsin Art, its mission and its facility, she mentioned that it reminded her of quality museum venues in Manhattan, and that it has that “Cool Factor”.

Around 250 people attended the announcement at West Bend Friday, January 12, to hear about the bold new mission of creating this first class regional art museum. Tom Lidtke, Executive Director, and Maureen Josten, President of the museum’s Board of Directors, explained their goals. It was an important moment in Wisconsin Art History. The Lt. Governor spoke about the importance of art in our lives and in this economy. She had first visited the West Bend Art Museum only six months before and was immediately impressed by the quality of its collection, its mission, and purpose. She could see the monetary value for our state’s economy, beyond the city of West Bend.

This special celebration included other events – the opening of the Robert von Neumann exhibit, the Della Wells exhibit in the museum’s “One from Wisconsin” Gallery, and the revealing of the new logo for the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

Plenty of hope and hard work are required right now, for there is money to be raised. While the museum has refined its mission statement and put its plans on the table, it is now entirely up to us, the citizens of Wisconsin who care about our quality of life, progressive traditions, and the future of our state’s children and its economy. The museum expansion will cost millions of dollars that must come from both art lovers of our region and pragmatic economists. Those of modest means must toss whatever we can in the collection box.

This is an opportunity that WE SIMPLY MUST HELP WILL INTO BEING. As Barbara Lawton stated, there is a “cool factor” here, as well as a cultural and economic growth generator.

The January 12th event exuded energy and optimism. Those traits must continue until this job is done. Allow me to be trite and say, “Long live the Museum of Wisconsin Art!”

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