Three accomplished architects have contributed to the Milwaukee Art Museum: Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava. Of the three, Calatrava’s Quadracci Pavilion is the most flamboyant.
He drew inspiration from the existing museum design, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, the City of Milwaukee, and Lake Michigan.
The Pavilion itself is reminiscent of a sailboat and has wings which open to 217 feet and provide a sunscreen that opens and closes twice daily. When wind speeds exceed 23 mph they close automatically.
The Pavilion was completed in 2001 and added over 142,000 sq feet of space to the Museum. Inside is Windhover Hall, Calatrava’s rendition of a Gothic cathedral. It includes extravagant features like a 90-foot high glass roof and flying buttresses. The public can access the Hall for free during regular hours.
Laurie Winters, then director of exhibitions in a 2010 video interview said of the Quadracci Pavilion: “It has transformed the museum in a number of ways. It has put us on the map internationally, it’s opened doors for us, it’s given us opportunities to work on exhibitions at a level that we never would have imagined previously.”
The sculptural Pavilion is a work of art in itself and makes an engaging addition to the museum. This is a trend in museum architecture today. See more interesting and unusual museums in my other posts here.