MILWAUKEE — Bob Shirrell and his wife are frequent visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museum, going at least every two or three months. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Milwaukee Art Museum is celebrating 20 years 

  • The Quadracci Pavilion was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava 

  • Mayor Cavalier Johnson dedicated Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 as Santiago Calatrava Day

  • The Milwaukee Art Museum is offering free admission on Friday to celebrate

On Wednesday, he and his wife were in town from Northfield, Illinois, with a cousin from the east coast. That meant a lot of opportunities for pictures and videos, especially in front of the museum as the wings closed and opened at noon. 

“It’s a novelty, obviously, and it’s fun to have,” Shirrell said. “It’s striking.”

And they aren’t alone. 

Several people from all over Milwaukee, the state of Wisconsin, and from around the world come to admire the uniqueness of the museum’s movement. 

Virginia Harrop is in from London, England. This was her second time visiting Milwaukee. The first was in 2015. 

“One of the main reasons we definitely wanted to come back because when we came, the art gallery was closed for renovations, so we wanted to come back to see it now,” Harrop said.

Not only did she want to see the artwork, she wanted to see the museum in its own grandeur. 

“The wings opening and closing... moving architecture is quite amazing,” she added. 

The museum celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava, on Wednesday, saying they got more from him than they’d ever hoped. 

“Back in 1994 when we began this process, we thought we’d be getting a beautiful building. At the end of the day, what we received as a gift from Mr. Calatrava was a sense of destiny, a sense of purpose, a sense of hope and aspiration for our community,” said Marcelle Polednik, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. “A sense of aspiration we have yet to fulfill, but that’s the good news. That’s the work of the next 20 years and beyond.”

With Calatrava in town for the celebration, Spectrum News 1 asked him how the museum compares to what he had envisioned when he designed it. 

“The intention was to open the city to the lake. That’s also very important. It’s not just a contribution to the art, but it is also when the art became an anchor to the city as a reference point as well as a link to the city, to the nature of the lake in front of us,” Calatrava said. 

The museum is celebrating “Santiago Calatrava Day” on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, with free admission. It’s open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m that day.