In Arts & Entertainment

Peg Bradley in her apartment at the Milwaukee Art Museum in the 1970s.

Did you know Peg Bradley had a secret apartment in the art museum?

When the Milwaukee Art Museum reopened its reinstalled collection in revamped galleries something was missing, but many didn't even notice. What had been called the "Bradley Rooms" or the "Bradley Apartment" had vanished.

The area was transformed into gallery space for part of the Bradley Collection.

(PHOTO: John Glembin)

Peg Bradley's mark on the museum, of course, did not go away. The incredible collection she donated (along with seed money to construct the Kahler building to house them) remains a major Milwaukee arts patrimony.

The collection contains more than 600 works, including examples by Milton Avery, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Raoul Dufy, Alberto Giacometti, Jasper Johns, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Joan Miro, Edvard Munch, Gabriele Munter, Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mark Rothko, Alfred Stieglitz, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Andy Warhol and many others.

(PHOTO: John Glembin)

Bradley, of course, left her imprint all over the arts in this town. As one newspaper article noted in 1985, "Bradley was such a leading supporter of the arts in Milwaukee that when she died in 1978, arts organization administrators expressed worry about the future of their organizations."

Part of the construction of that east wing in the mid-'70s included an apartment with a stellar view of the lake, a kitchen, dining room and other spaces, where Bradley could entertain guests, host parties and, presumably, get away from it all, too.

There was also a Bradley apartment in the Allen-Bradley clocktower. That one – complete with all-pink ladies room with gold accents – survives.

(PHOTO: John Glembin)

The concept is not unprecedented here and beyond. Benefactor and art collector Eckhardt Grohmann has his own private office nestled within the eponymous museum he gifted to MSOE a number of years back, too.

(PHOTO: John Glembin)

Early on, the rooms were solely for Bradley's private use and after her death they were rarely opened. It is here, I still recall, that I first saw the working model for the Calatrava addition in the 1990s.

In 2006, on the occasion of then-curator Joe Ketner's reinstallation of the Bradley Collection, the rooms were opened to the public, but it seems likely most visitors didn't realize that the spaces – now more integrated into the galleries – were once behind closed doors.


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