The Central Library opened in 1898, designed as a U-shaped building by architects Ferry and Clas to house both the Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee Public Museum. Additions in 1909, 1913, and 1954 expanded the building into the structure as it stands today. The Milwaukee Public Museum relocated to a new, stand-alone building across the street in 1963. Central Library was designated an official Milwaukee landmark in 1969 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Celebrate Central Library’s 125th Anniversary!
September 5-October 14, 2023:
Milwaukee Public Library Staff Art Show
Library employees will showcase original art inspired by Central Library and its history, or by libraries, reading, literature, or literacy in general. Many pieces will be available for purchase from the artist.
A special thanks to Milwaukee Area Teachers of Art (MATA) for the loan of the art show display pedestals.
Art Show Reception
Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at 4:30 p.m.
Milwaukee Central Library | Mozart's Grove
Saturday, October 7, 2023
10 a.m. | Central Library History
Learn about the history of the Central Library building. View 19th, 20th, and 21st-century images of the changes that have occurred to public and staff spaces over time, including some areas rarely seen by the public. A tour of the building showcasing many of these areas will follow. Or take the new Central Library History self-guided tour at your leisure.
10:30 a.m. | Be an Architect - Central Library Betty Brinn Children’s Room
Kids are invited to celebrate 125 years of the Central Library with building fun! Grow your engineering skills as you try out different building stations. “Rise” to the challenge of building the tallest tower!
12:30 p.m. | Mayoral Proclamation
Join Library Director Joan Johnson as she welcomes Mayor Cavalier Johnson to the library to read the 125th proclamation. Enjoy a cookie during the celebration (while supplies last).
1:30 p.m. | Green Roof Tour
Take a short tour of the library's Green Roof! Please meet in the Central Library's Rotunda to start the tour.
2 p.m. | The Past and Present of Glass Plate Photography
Discover the miracle of glass plate photography! Danielle Wrobleski collects antique cameras and creates pictures using this method. Danielle will talk about the history of photography, the process of working with glass plates, and share some of her images, both contemporary and restored.