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The Art Preserve, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Photo: Durston Saylor
The Art Preserve, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Photo: Durston Saylor

Museum Dedicated to Artist-Built Environments to Open in Wisconsin

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in downtown Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has announced that the Art Preserve, a new $40 million museum dedicated to artist-built environments, will open in August. Designed by the Denver-based architectural firm Tres Birds, the 56,000-square-foot building, which is located on thirty-eight acres, will provide exhibition and storage space for the more than 25,000 works in the center’s collection.

Known for its exhibition program and scholarship on self-taught and contemporary artists, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center first revealed its plans for the project in 2015, when it made a deal with the city to buy land owned by the Schuchardt Farm for $1.1 million for the museum.

“The Schuchardt Farm Property is a perfect setting for the Art Preserve,” said Sandra Sachse, the center’s board president, after the city and the center reached an agreement. “It offers easy access from major thoroughfares and connectivity with the arts center’s downtown Sheboygan location and existing cultural assets. The semirural quality is similar to the original locations of most of the art environments in our collection.”

The institution will soon house immersive works by artists such as Levi Fisher Ames, Emery Blagdon, Loy Bowlin, Nek Chand, Annie Hooper, Jesse Howard, Mary Nohl, Charles Smith, Fred Smith, Lenore Tawney, Stella Waitzkin, Ray Yoshida, and Albert Zahn. On the first floor of the three-story structure will be a replica of Eugene von Bruenchenhein’s Milwaukee kitchen. When Bruenchenhein died in 1983, thousands of works were discovered in his home, which was filled to capacity. The center was one of the first museums to collect the self-taught artist’s works.

The Art Preserve will also boast of an area for education initiatives, a library, and other public gathering spaces. The museum expands on the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s mission to present and study artist-built environments—spaces that have been significantly transformed by an artist—which it has been committed to preserving since the 1970s.