Top News

For Immediate Release

Jan. 10, 2022

Media Contact:
Caroline Dannecker, CAVT Museums Inc. | (414) 2788295 ext. 3

Milwaukee Museum Changing Name to Celebrate Women and Nonbinary People in Art

Small Museum Tackles Major Gender Inequalities with New Exhibition

MILWAUKEE – The Charles Allis Art Museum on Milwaukee’s East Side is temporarily changing its name. From Jan. 26 through June 11th, 2023, the museum will be known as the Sarah Ball Allis Art Museum, honoring the Wisconsin socialite and art collector who gifted her home and vast art collection to Milwaukee upon her death. 

The name change comes as part of its new, homonymous exhibition, crafted by Milwaukee-based artist and guest curator Kate Schaffer who collaborated with the museum to rename the institution for the exhibition.

“Women and nonbinary people have historically been disadvantaged, their narratives written by others,” notes Schaffer, who identifies as nonbinary and uses she/her pronouns for political purposes. “By renaming the Allis, we’re repairing the history of the home, the collection and Sarah herself and we’re taking a small but significant step to amend the historical silencing of women and nonbinary persons, particularly in the art world. ”

Executive Director Jaymee Harvey Willms agrees. “Sarah and Charles built their art collection, home and legacy together. The Allis does not exist without Sarah. Her last will and testament spells out her dedication to the fabric of Milwaukee and leaves us with a directive: to educate, delight and inspire. However, she’s been left out of the story of this home and collection. We see and recognize patriarchal norms at work in this institution, and the critique of it is needed,” says Harvey Willms. “As an institution, we’ve been working to correct this, to bring Sarah and Charles to life for our community. We’re so excited for the exhibition, for people to really get to know and love Sarah the way we do.”

The “Sarah Ball Allis Art Museum'' will feature additional audio and didactics dedicated to telling Sarah’s story. The exhibition imagines the museum’s collection as if Sarah were alive and collecting art today. It will feature contemporary works by regional and international women, femme and nonbinary artists — including Michelle Grabner, D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem, Vaughan Larsen and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung — alongside the museum’s permanent collection.

“Sarah and Charles’ collection featured works by several progressive artists including works by women and abolitionists. Building on that, the ‘Sarah Ball Allis Art Museum’ as an exhibition underscores feminism in artmaking,” says Schaffer of her choices.

The Sarah Ball Allis Art Museum and exhibition opens Thursday, Jan. 26. The museum is celebrating with a free public opening featuring live music, hors d’oeuvres and opening remarks. A cash bar will be available.

More information regarding the opening and the exhibition can be found at

About Sarah Ball Allis Art Museum
Formerly known as the Charles Allis Art Museum, the Sarah Ball Allis Art Museum was the historic home of Wisconsin socialite Sarah Ball Allis and her husband, Charles Allis of the Allis-Chalmers Company. The Tudor-style mansion on Milwaukee’s East Side houses the Allis’ vast international art collection with works spanning from antiquity to the twentieth century. Sarah bequeathed the home and collection to Milwaukee to delight, educate and inspire the community. The museum continues to honor Sarah’s vision with community oriented programming and exhibitions. For more information regarding hours, admission and membership visit

About Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums Inc.
Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Museums Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving Milwaukee's history and enriching the county through culture and the arts. CAVT supports and celebrates the public’s access to these two historic homes and their art collections by providing innovative and inspiring exhibitions and programming that encourages a better, stronger and more inclusive Milwaukee. CAVT Museums oversees the conservation and continued development of the museums through member and donor support. For information regarding membership, admission and events visit


Past News

For Immediate Release: Oct. 24, 2022

Charles Allis Welcomes New Artist in Residence

Milwaukee Sculptor Siara Berry Joins the Museum

MILWAUKEE – The Charles Allis Art Museum has launched a new artist in residence program for Milwaukee-based artists and is proud to welcome its first artist for the program: local sculptor Siara Berry.

Berry, whose work is “an overarching critique of American housing systems and ideals,” began her residency at the museum in late September, drawn by the opportunity to create and exhibit work in the historic home.

“The Charles Allis is a historical home situated in Milwaukee’s ever-changing, developing East Side. The dynamics of space as it relates to the work is something I hope to capitalize on, and will give the work an entirely new sense of place,” says Berry. 

The sculptor is creating an installation piece for the museum’s courtyard featuring several large-scale sculptures.

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For Immediate Release: Oct. 24, 2022

The Charles Allis Opens New Contemporary Galleries

First Exhibition Features Regional Artists 

MILWAUKEE – The Charles Allis Art Museum is opening three new spaces for experimental and contemporary works Oct. 27 and quietly celebrating the new additions with the final concert of Autumn at the Allis.

Called the Connecting Galleries, the three spaces take advantage of unique points in the museum: the elevator, the Queen-Anne style dining room table and a small room that once functioned as Sarah Allis’ private entrance. 

“When you have an art museum in a historic space you need to think differently,” says Senior Curator Phoenix Brown. “We asked artists to consider these spaces beyond their dimensions, when we accepted proposals. We wanted them to think about the history, the use and the perceptions of these domestic spaces in society.”

The Connecting Galleries, respectively known as The Lift, The Table and Passage End, will feature rotating exhibitions of works by different artists. Chicago-based Ruby Que and Millicent Kennedy, along with Milwaukee-native Rachel Sanders will be the first artists to feature in the new galleries.

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For Immediate Release: Sept. 27, 2022

Autumn at the Allis Returns

Charles Allis Art Museum Welcomes Locals and Local Music this October

MILWAUKEE – The Charles Allis Art Museum is excited to welcome Milwaukee back for its free concert series, Autumn at the Allis. Visitors are invited to listen to local music artists and enjoy local eats alongside the Allis’ art collection every Thursday this October.

“Autumn at the Allis is a great, family-friendly community event. This year’s should be even better than last’s. We’ve got great food and a great line-up. There’s something for everyone,” says Membership and Development Director Matt Pappas.

This year features local favorites Johnathon Mayer with Liam Hayes, Steph Lippert, Derek Pritzl and Ellie Jackson, capturing music from psychedelic pop to R&B and country.

2022 Autumn at the Allis Series:
Oct. 6: Johnathon Mayer with Liam Hayes at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13: Steph Lippert at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20: Derek Pritzl at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 27: Ellie Jackson at 8:30 p.m.

Doors will open at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 through Oct. 20 and 8 p.m. Oct. 27, allowing visitors to explore the museum prior to performances. Rich Frishman’s photography exhibition “Ghosts of Segregation: America’s Continuing Struggle” is currently on display.

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For Immediate Release: Aug. 31, 2022

Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums Announce Access Program for Low-Income Families

The Allis joins the Villa Terrace in Increasing Art and Museum Accessibility in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE  – Today the Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums announced that they have joined Museums for All, a signature access program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), administered by the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), to encourage people of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum-going habits.

The program supports those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits visiting the museums. They will now receive free admission for up to four people to the Allis and the Terrace, with presentation of a SNAP electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

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For Immediate Release: July 25, 2022

Charles Allis Art Museum Guests Invited to Confront “Ghosts of Segregation” in New Exhibition

Museum Welcomes Exhibition with New Executive Director and Senior Curator 

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee’s Charles Allis Art Museum will host “Ghosts of Segregation: America’s Continuing Struggle” a traveling photography exhibition that explores the lingering presence of segregation, slavery and institutional racism hidden in everyday American architecture.

Through his work, Washington state-based photographer Richard Allen Frishman demonstrates how our surroundings bear witness to history. From the New Orleans Slave Exchange to the abandoned Negro Nursing School in Houston, the shocking nature of Frishman's images reveals insidious evidence of segregation and historic racism.

“Jim Crow not only extended across America, but it also became part of everyday life in communities across the country. The built environment is society's autobiography writ large,” writes Frishman. The artist’s photography shows viewers where we have been and where we are now as a society, asking “Where do we go from here?”

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