The John Michael Kohler Arts Center

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is planning a new opening date for the Art Preserve, the world’s first museum devoted to artist-built environments.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is planning a new opening date for the Art Preserve, the world’s first museum devoted to artist-built environments.

Due to delays caused by COVID-19, the Art Preserve, which was originally set to open its doors this August, is rescheduled to open June 26, 2021.

The postponement allows for finalizing interior construction and installation of works of art.

The Art Preserve’s 56,000-square-foot, three-level building will provide exhibition space and visible storage for more than 25,000 works in the Arts Center’s world-renowned collection, which includes complete and partial environments by more than 30 vernacular, self-taught, and academically trained artists. As a new satellite campus, the Art Preserve will complement the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s main location three miles away in downtown Sheboygan, a small city along Lake Michigan an hour north of Milwaukee.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is known for the exhibition, study, and preservation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists. It holds the world’s largest collection of artist-built environments, a unique art form created by artists who often transform their homes and yards into multifaceted works of art. Works by more than 30 artists are included in the Arts Center collection.

“Despite the delay, excitement continues to build for the opening of the Art Preserve,” noted Sam Gappmayer, director, John Michael Kohler Arts Center. “Over 10 years in the planning, the Art Preserve serves as a contemporary setting for our distinctive and expansive collection and for the ongoing explorations and investigations into these unique sites and their creators. We’re proud to be an institutional steward of the works, and people are talking about Sheboygan being on the cusp of becoming an art destination.”

Prior to the June grand opening, on January 2, 2021, the Art Preserve will open its doors to allow visitors to watch the completion of the Dr. Smith, Tawney, and Bowlin collection areas. This “soft” opening offers the opportunity to showcase the experimental nature of the Art Preserve and to engage with the public about the fragile nature of the collection. In addition, the completed collection areas will be open for viewing, including those featuring work by Blagdon, Howard, and Chand.

“This invitation for public input will provide an opportunity for staff to interact with the visitors in the space and respond to their experiences. The Art Preserve is conceived and created as an open-ended series of responses to the needs of a unique collection; it seems a natural progression to include our visitors in that process,” said Amy Horst, associate director, John Michael Kohler Arts Center. 


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