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This space in the new addition will house a cafe with views of Lake Michigan and of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion.

13 photos behind the scenes at the Milwaukee Art Museum expansion



Photo Gallery Gallery: Expanded Milwaukee Art Museum opens Tuesday, Nov. 24

The Milwaukee Art Museum is prepping to reopen after being closed for 14 months while the collection was de-installed, an addition built – along with other construction work, including a new HVAC system.

The new-look MAM swings its doors open to the public on Nov. 24 (though members get a preview on Nov. 21-22), but we went inside to see what's happening right now. (Here's a similar peek we got in January.)

The expansive new galleries will display 2,500 works of art – 1,000 more than before – and benefit not only from more space, but much improved sightlines, brighter lighting, better wayfinding and more. I'm especially pleased that the new HVAC system has rid the Saarinen building of that damp smell that lingered there for decades.

Although the permanent galleries are still closed, the museum restaurant, cafe, Kohl's Art Generation studio and shop remain open. And this week, MAM opens a great photography show, too.

1. The museum now has much-improved sightlines; 200 feet in some cases

2. More space and creative use of space means more than 1,000 more works can be displayed

3. Once-dark areas are now better lit

4. The addition brings visitors right up to the lake and creates new vistas

5. Some works, including especially fragile ones, are already in place

6. Some old favorites are coming back

7. The clackety wooden Kahler building steps have been snugged up and cleaned ... gorgeous!

8. You can now again enter the museum from the lakefront

9. This intimate second-floor gallery is my favorite

10. The lower level has a large photography gallery

11. Like the Calatrava, the addition now has an oculus, too

12. The entrance from the Quadracci Pavilion features a Milwaukee icon

13. The addition will have a cafe space here


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