Art Preserve

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center will purchase a section of the Schuchardt Farm Property on Indiana Avenue from the City of Sheboygan for the development of the world’s first facility dedicated to the study of art environments and their preservation, conservation, and presentation. The project, known as the Art Preserve, will complement the Arts Center’s New York Avenue location in downtown Sheboygan, WI.

Approximately 39 acres are included in the $1,170,000 deal approved by the Sheboygan Common Council on December 21, 2015. The Arts Center has agreed to make a payment in lieu of taxes as well. Groundbreaking on the multimillion-dollar project is expected in the summer of 2017 with completion targeted for the summer of 2020.

“The Schuchardt Farm Property is a perfect setting for the Art Preserve,” said Sandra Sachse, president of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Board of Directors. “It offers easy access from major thoroughfares and connectivity with the Arts Center’s downtown Sheboygan location and existing cultural assets. The semirural quality is similar to the original locations of most of the art environments in our collection.”

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is known worldwide for its collection and presentation of art environments. This unique field of art-making involves an individual significantly transforming his/her personal surroundings—for example, his/her home or yard—into an exceptional, multifaceted work of art.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center Director Ruth DeYoung Kohler and Kohler Foundation, Inc. have long been known as the world’s major preservationists of complete artist environments as well as for bringing together smaller components of this art form.

“The Arts Center’s unparalleled collection of works by art-environment builders is experiencing ever-increasing requests for access from scholars, curators, and the public,” said Karen Patterson, John Michael Kohler Arts Center associate curator. “We already have two environments that cannot be shown until we have permanent outdoor space for them, and we don’t want to decline future opportunities to grow because of the lack of space.”

The Art Preserve will utilize the property’s unique natural qualities for the installation of art environments in harmony with land conservancy initiatives related to the area. The new facility will serve as the major indoor/outdoor museum of whole environments as well as of smaller components of this magnificent art form.

“Development of this property into a world-renowned, first-of-its-kind Art Preserve will be a key year-round tourism and economic development asset for the city and the state. This project has been in the works for a number of years, and it is exciting to see it come to fruition,” stated Chad Pelishek, planning and development director for the City of Sheboygan. 

The James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden, one of the environments in the Arts Center collection that has been preserved in situ, is open for viewing year-round at its original location at 5634 Evergreen Drive in the Town of Wilson, south of Sheboygan.

“The Arts Center has always believed that the art environments we preserve should remain in situ like the Tellen sculpture garden, but that is not always possible,” said Ed McKelvey, chair of the Art Center’s Art Preserve Committee. “Our solution is the Art Preserve, which will serve as a haven for art environments that no longer have a home.”