The Racine Art Museum wraps up 2017 marking a series of anniversaries. Seventy-five years ago, a Racine woman, Jennie E Wustum, bequeathed her house, some land, and a small trust fund to the city to create an art museum in her husband’s honor. That original building and grounds is still serve as the museum’s Wustum annex.
Fifteen years ago, the museum’s main space was moved to an historic building on the corner of Main and 5th Streets. Built in 1885, that building began its life as the Racine Post Office, later becoming the home to various business, including M&I Bank. In 2003, the museum took over the entire structure to house and showcase its permanent collection, which has been growing steadily.
The Racine Art Museum, or RAM, has the largest contemporary craft collection in the United States, with more than 9,500 objects from nationally and internationally recognized artists. It also has a significant collection of works on paper as well as sculpture. And it continues to find novel ways to showcase fine art and craft in ways that appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Lake Effect traveled to RAM recently to visit with executive director Bruce Pepich and exhibitions curator Lena Vigna for a wide-ranging conversation about art, craft, and the importance of museums.