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Milwaukee Art Museum's Calatrava celebrates 20 years as a Milwaukee symbol

Quadracci Pavilion Calatrava
Joy Powers
/
WUWM
The Quadracci Pavilion, known as the Calatrava, on the shore of Lake Michigan.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s Calatrava is undoubtedly a symbol of the city. The building, known formally as the Quadracci Pavillion, is celebrating two decades on Milwaukee’s lakefront. In that time, the Calatrava has become an iconic part of the city’s skyline and one of its main attractions.

"We see countless people taking graduation and quinceanera photos there, I’m sure that more than one couple has gotten engaged. It’s just a place that is prime for building memories and connections," says Robert Stein, deputy director and chief experience officer at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Quadracci Pavilion Calatrava building
Joy Powers
/
The bridge connecting visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museum's Quadracci Pavilion, with its wing-like appendages spread out.

The Quadracci Pavillion was created by architect Santiago Calatrava, and has become one of his most recognizable works. The building is a nod to Milwaukee's lakefront with features that resemble the bow of a boat and sails. Its most recognizable feature may be its large, wing-like appendages that open and close based on the time of day and the weather.

As we look at the next 20 years, Stein says he hopes the building will remain an iconic part of the lakefront and become a gathering space that can move the city forward.

"I don't think that we necessarily knew that the building would leave this kind of an imprint and literally become the icon of the City of Milwaukee," he says. "Certainly for our part at the art museum, we see ourselves working hard to think about and contribute to what kind of city we want to build in the next 20 years. We think that involves putting community right at the heart and the center of it."

Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2016.
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