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The History of Wisconsin Art Exhibition: A Creative Place

January 22 - May 8, 2022
Public Opening Reception on Saturday, January 22 from 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m  and 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Co-author Book Signing from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

The history of art in Wisconsin is a largely untold story for most of us who call this place home—until now. The History of Wisconsin Art Exhibition: A Creative Place tells the story of our rich artistic past through a thoughtfully curated collection of artwork representing thousands of years of creative endeavor.

The exhibition is predominantly educational and informative, focusing on the state’s rich artistic history. Examples of important artwork will highlight notable stylistic trends and movements within the state’s artistic evolution. The History of Wisconsin Art Exhibition is presented chronologically among the museum’s seven galleries:

  1. Native Presence: Before 1634

  2. Encounters and Settlement: 1634-1869

  3. The Great Cultural Expansion: 1870-1917

  4. Transitioning from European Ideals to America’s Regional Interests: 1918-1944

  5. The Post-War Period: 1945-1964

  6. Activism and Innovation in the Visual Arts: 1965-1980

  7. The Last Decades of the Twentieth Century: 1981-2000

This visionary exhibition celebrates the completion of a new benchmark in Wisconsin history: the first publication to encompass the 13,000 year history of art in Wisconsin. The book A Creative Place: The History of Wisconsin Art by authors Thomas Lidtke and Annemarie Sawkins and published by the Cedarburg Art Museum elevates art to its rightful place in the proud culture of our state.


The exhibition is curated by Ric Hartman, avid collector of historic Wisconsin artwork and owner of the Gallery of Wisconsin Art.


Tom Lidtke


Annemarie Sawkins

Artwork images on banner above (L to R):

Artist Once Known, Composite of deer hunting pictograph and details of original, Late Woodland, 750–1100 CE. Charcoal on sandstone, approximately 39 in. wide. Tainter Cave, Crawford County. Drawing and photographs by Robert Boszhardt;  Orlando Scott Goff (1830–1916), Sitting Bull, half-length portrait, seated, facing front, holding calumet, ca. 1881. Photographic print on cabinet card mount. Library of Congress,; Photographer unknown, “Vinnie Ream at work upon her Lincoln bust which rests upon the stand she used in the White House while President Lincoln posed for her,” ca. 1865. From American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women’s History and Culture in the United States.;  Robert Schade (1861–1912), Page from Richard Quick Sketchbook, 1882. Graphite on paper, 7 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. Museum of Wisconsin Art, 1989.029.;  John Steuart Curry (1897–1946), Our Good Earth, 1942. Oil on hardboard. 60 1/8 × 48 1/8 in. Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Madison, Gift of the U.S. Treasury Department to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UW-Madison, 3.1999.1.;  Reynaldo Hernandez (b.1950), Cultural Chromosomes (Self Portrait), 1990. Acrylic on board, four 8 × 4ft. Panels. Courtesy of the artist. Photograph by Stacy Kaat.

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Take a virtual tour of the exhibition below:

Gallery Shots from the Exhibition