750 University Ave.
Madison Wisconsin 53706United States
Midwest Living Recommends
The esteemed museum on the UW campus has a stunning facility to showcase its impressive collection since its 86,000-square-foot addition.
The Chazen Museum of Art has amassed an impressive collection since it opened in 1970, growing from 1,500 to more than 20,000 pieces, which left the building cramped and outdated. In 2011, a $43 million, 86,000-square-foot expansion doubled the space and created a gorgeous framework worthy of showcasing what's inside. For the first time, Chazen has dedicated space for African, Asian, Midwest surrealism and 21st-century international art to complement centuries of American and European works. There's also a new gift shop, object and print study rooms, a grand hall for temporary exhibitions and a 160-seat auditorium for viewing archival film. But most impressive for seasoned Chazen patrons may be the building itself. Architect Rodolfo Machado created a second structure reflective of the first, then attached the two at the third floor with a bridge. (Inside, the transition is seamless--most don't realize they're on it.) This bridge straddles a lovely new pedestrian mall with a polished limestone "carpet" flowing from outside to inside, across the lobby floor and on up the open, three-floor staircase. It's just one of many examples of how Machado married the indoors and outdoors, a work of art itself. The two-story Petra Blaisse-commissioned voile and felt curtain against the main glass wall is yet another work of art -- particularly as it closes, like a dancer swirling her skirts. The museum is free and open to the public.