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Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

227 State Street
Madison, Wisconsin

Phone: 608-257-0158 --

As of April 23, 2006, the museum re-opened into its new, greatly expanded facility in Overture Center for the Arts in downtown Madison.

Statement of Purpose:

The Madison Art Center is a not-for-profit museum that exists to exhibit, collect and preserve, and interpret visual art, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. It serves the art life of the community by creating opportunities for direct experience with works of art, by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas about art, and by offering programs to enhance the appreciation and understanding of art.

Highlights & Collections:


One of the city's oldest cultural organizations, the Madison Art Center began as the Madison Art Association in 1901. In 1969, the Association merged with the Madison Art Foundation and shortly thereafter the museum achieved accreditation from the American Association of Museums. In 1980, the Art Center moved into its current location.


The Art Center occupies some 27,000 square feet, with 8,816 square feet of exhibition space and an adjacent auditorium and video-screening room. Three floors of galleries provide a variety of viewing experiences and are reconfigured so as to create a unique space for each exhibition. The Gallery Shop, located at the museum entrance, offers hand-crafted cards, pottery, glass, and jewelry, along with a variety of art publications.


The Art Center's permanent collection contains more than 4,500 works of art. With a solid core of American drawings and prints, the collection includes a wide variety of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works by some of the most innovative artists of our time. Among the artists represented are Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, John Steuart Curry, Paul Gauguin, Frida Kahlo, Jin Soo Kim, Henri Matisse, Louise Nevelson, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Paschke, and John Wilde. Many of these works can be viewed in the rotating exhibition Highlights from the Permanent Collection. Artworks from the collection are also used to create temporary exhibitions. Portions of the collection not on view are available by appointment.



The Art Center offers an average of ten different exhibitions annually. The museum has established a tradition of presenting significant exhibitions. Major exhibitions organized by the Art Center, including Jim Dine: Drawing from the Glyptothek (1993) and Claes Oldenburg: Printed Stuff (1997), have traveled to museums throughout the nation. The museum has presented the work of modern masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Georgia O'Keeffe, and emerging artists such as Julia Fish and Martin Kersels. The museum's strong commitment to artists of the region is reflected in exhibitions such as the Wisconsin Triennial, a regularly scheduled survey of work in all media by artists from throughout the state, and Surreal Wisconsin (1998).

Education Programs

The Art Center's Education Department offers a range of innovative programs for both adults and children designed to illuminate the work on view, and to place contemporary art in a vibrant and meaningful context. Art Talks bring prominent artists, curators, critics, and historians to the museum to share their insights on current exhibitions. Gallery Talks feature lively, informal lectures in the galleries by artists, staff members, docents, and arts professionals. Gallery Games introduce children to the art on view through creative and playful activities. Express It! Art Workshops allow kids and their families to make art together while exploring themes and ideas from current exhibitions. Art Cart, a van that brings art materials and instructors to area parks, schools, and beaches during the summer, and Saturday Arts for Children classes are both cosponsored by the Art Center and Madison School-Community Recreation. UrbanArts Outreach works with students enrolled in after school programs at area neighborhood and community centers to create artwork inspired by Art Center exhibitions.


The Art Center relies on individuals, corporations, foundations, and the museum's Business Council, Langer Society, and general membership to provide necessary financial support.


Current membership exceeds 2,000 individuals and businesses. Members enjoy a variety of benefits, including free admission to opening receptions, a quarterly newsletter detailing upcoming events, and discounts in the museum's Gallery Shop. Annual membership starts at $35.00.

Volunteer Opportunities

The docent program provides interested volunteers with a twelve-week training course in art history and tour techniques. Docents share their knowledge and enthusiasm through the Art Center's tour program, giving guided tours of exhibitions to schools and other groups. In addition, members may deepen their involvement in the Art Center through The Art League and Art Partners. The Art League assists the museum with education, service, and fundraising support. Art Partners is designed for members with busy schedules who want to learn more about the arts. Both organizations sponsor museum programs and special events.

Calendar of events:


Admission & Directions:

The Madison Art Center is free and open to the public.

The Art Center is located downtown in the Madison Civic Center building, two blocks from the State Capitol, at 211 State Street. The museum is accessible to individuals with disabilities, and is conveniently located near two public parking ramps.


Key Personnel:

Stephen Fleischman, Director
Katie Kazan, Director of Public Information

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