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The power of architecture
A landmark addition to a previously ho-hum museum draws thousands
on opening day


Milwaukee Art Museum Expansion
Calatrava Valls

previous image
All Photography © John E. Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA
When the Santiago Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) was fully complete, 32,000 people filled the museum for the October 14 opening (as seen in the images on this page). That total far surpassed the previous typical big day for the museum—5,000 visitors—and the prior daily average of 1,000 visitors. MAM’s average annual attendance was 165,000 in 1999 and 2000, but attendance from the May 4, 2001, partial opening of the Calatrava addition to the end of 2001 was 375,000.

The Calatrava building, demonstrating the power of architecture, is a new visible symbol for the city. Whether Milwaukeeans want to admit it or not, in our media-driven society the Calatrava addition to MAM now is Milwaukee to the rest of the country and the world.

Robert Greenstreet, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, chair of the city planning commission, and a member of the 21-person architect-selection committee that chose Calatrava over Arata Isozaki and Fumihiko Maki for the MAM job in 1994, said: "I’m very positive about the impact that this can have on the city, in the way in which it stimulates a level of architectural awareness among the citizenry."

— John E. Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA

Read more: In honor of the opening of the museum, the Milwaukee Symphony and the Milwaukee Art Museum commissioned an original piece from composer Philip Glass. Glass spoke with RECORD about the experience of composing for a piece of architecture. Read the interview here. Plus, find out more about the people and products that were behind the making of this project.



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