By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Feb 02, 2022 at 3:45 PM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

If the project is approved, the Bronzeville Center for the Arts (BCA) will build a new campus – with a 50,000-square-foot facility focusing on African-American exhibitions, education and immersive artistic programming – on a former DNR site.

The BCA was recently selected as the top responder to an offer to purchase a 3.4-acre property owned by the state and previously occupied by the Wisconsin DNR Southeast Regional Headquarters and Milwaukee Service Center. BCA’s $1.6 million land purchase proposal will be considered by the State Building Commission on Feb. 9. The proposal will also need approval from the State’s Joint Committee on Finance. 

“This site has tremendous potential for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts,” said Kristen Hardy, a Milwaukee attorney and president of the Bronzeville Center for the Arts board. “Someday in the near future, it is our hope that visitors from across the city, state and nation will come to Bronzeville to explore African American art and art history in ways that foster and inspire personal expression, the exchange of ideas, and creative entrepreneurship.”

This would be the BCA’s second investment in Bronzeville, along with the organization’s anticipated development at North Avenue. Construction on the $1 million redevelopment of 507 W. North Ave. is set to begin this spring.

The North Avenue project will include the redevelopment of an existing duplex building as well as the construction of an addition, which will span an adjacent vacant lot. The BCA’s North Avenue development will be home to a gallery, workshop space and BCA offices.

The BCA’s proposed programming for its future Bronzeville developments includes: 

  • Museum-quality exhibitions of the visual arts.
  • Educational programs, lecture series, panel discussions and seminars both live and virtual, that bring together artists, scholars, educators, community leaders, organizations and innovators within and beyond the U.S.A. to examine art history, dynamic art projects, career opportunities, creative entrepreneurship and issues of art and race.
  • Hands-on art workshops that explore various techniques with an emphasis on teaching creative skills, as well as intellectual and professional development.
  • Performances in the visual arts, music, dance, spoken word, etc.

“We have a great opportunity to increase our collective knowledge about African American art, art history and artists,” said Mutòpe J. Johnson, a Milwaukee-based artist and the BCA’s project manager. “The Center will be a true destination, celebrating the past while making art of the African diaspora a central focus in the cultural consciousness of present and future generations.”

Earlier this month, the New York Times named Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood one of the "52 Places for Travelers to visit for 2022."

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.