At the risk of sounding cliche, Milwaukee's lively art scene really does have something to suit everyone's tastes. For serious connoisseurs of European painting and American folk, decorative and fine arts traditions through the 20th century, the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and Marquette University's Haggerty Museum of Art boast impressive permanent holdings as well as several temporary exhibitions each year.
If you'd rather see European oils, fine porcelain or the work of 19thcentury American craftsmen in a historic setting, head over to the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum or the Charles Allis Art Museum-which, like the MAM, are worth visiting for the architecture alone.
Those looking to purchase high-end art are likely to find it in the Historic Third Ward, where a wide variety of arts-ceramics, photography, painting, textiles, sculpture and jewelry-are often housed within one building. What's more, the entire area is enlivened each season with Gallery Night, an art crawl that has proven so popular that it's spawned similar traditions in areas like Waukesha.
To get a taste of emerging local and national talent, visit the Armoury Gallery's lofty perch in the Fortress Building just north of Downtown or Green Gallery in Riverwest (which recently added a new venue on Milwaukee's East Side). UW-Milwaukee's Inova and Union Art Gallery also showcase a nice range of contemporary artists year round.
The Art Bar in Riverwest, an atmospheric venue where art, music, beer and conversation converge, proves that not all creative exchanges are bound by the conventional white-walled gallery. Courting a similarly fluid interaction between life and art is Water Buffalo, a restaurant in the Third Ward that showcases the work of local artists. However, when it comes to pushing art entirely outside the proverbial box, look to IN:SITE, which organizes temporary art events in public spaces around the city.
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