August 1, 2019
Sheboygan, WI

Contact: Patricia DuChene

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center announced today the acquisition of a major collection of work by self-taught artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983). The more than 8,300 pieces, which come to the Arts Center’s from Von Bruenchenhein’s estate, span the entire range of the artist’s subject matter—from paintings and sculpture to slides and photographs. 

“We are honored to receive this astounding collection of work thanks to the generosity of Lewis Greenblatt, owner of the artist’s estate, and through the exceptional support of Kohler Foundation Inc.,” said Sam Gappmayer, Arts Center director.

The collection represents the remaining materials from the Von Bruenchenhein estate and joins the 6,000 Von Bruenchenhein objects already held in the JMKAC collection. Newly acquired works include fowl-bone sculptures, concrete sculptures, paintings, and metal and ceramic crowns. Also included are nearly 7,000 photographs and more than 1,000 photographic transparencies.

“I am delighted to have worked with Karen Patterson at the Kohler Arts Center and Terri Yoho at the Kohler Foundation in placing my collection of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s art work with the Kohler Arts Center in the wonderful home where it truly belongs,” said Greenblatt. “Karen’s dedication and love of the work was instrumental in my decision making. Karen’s curation of the Von Bruenchenhein show entitled Mythologies at the Kohler Arts Center was magnificent and without peer to any EVB exhibition ever done….I will miss the work, but know that it is in good hands.”

With this acquisition, a substantial amount of the artist’s work is now united—providing an opportunity to illustrate the artist-built environment that Von Bruenchenhein created and lived in at his home in West Allis, Wisconsin. An evocation of his artist-built environment will be featured at the Arts Center’s new Art Preserve when it opens in early fall 2020.

The Art Preserve will be the world’s first facility entirely devoted to artist-built environments, a unique art form created by artists who transform their homes, yards, or other spaces into multifaceted works of art. The Art Preserve complements the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s location in downtown Sheboygan, which will continue to be the main venue for Arts Center exhibitions, performances and other programs.

With a collecting history that began with the purchase of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein works in 1983, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is the leading institution for the study and presentation of artist-built environments. The Arts Center’s collection of works from artist-built environments now includes approximately 25,000 works of art and archival materials from more than 30 sites.

In addition to the Von Bruenchenhein estate, the Arts Center has also recently acquired a concrete mask by Eddie Owens Martin and an untitled animal figurine by Charlie Willetto. Both works were gifted by Kohler Foundation Inc.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 60 miles north of Milwaukee. Admission is free. Arts Center hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit for holiday closings and to plan a visit.

Shown: Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, untitled (detail), silver gelatin print. John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection, gift of Lewis and Jean Greenblatt and Kohler Foundation Inc.

About the John Michael Kohler Arts Center: Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is dedicated to making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience that ranges from artists and academics to families and youth of all ages. Central to its mission is promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through original exhibitions, commissioned works of art, performing arts programs, community arts initiatives, and publications.

The Arts Center’s collection focuses primarily on works by artist-environment builders, self-taught and folk artists, and works created in the Arts/Industry residency program. Since the 1970s, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center has preserved, studied, and exhibited artist environments. Today, with approximately 25,000 individual works of art by 32 different art-environment builders in the collection, the Arts Center is the world’s leading center for research and presentation of this work.

Looking to the future, the Arts Center continues to generate new explorations in the arts that foster creative exchanges between an international community of artists and a diverse public. In addition to presenting original exhibitions, programming includes the creation of new works of art through community arts residencies, an arts-based preschool, and the presentation of performing arts. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is supported by corporate and foundation donors, government grants, and its many members. The Arts Center is not an entity of Kohler Co. or its subsidiaries.



Admission to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is by voluntary donation. Arts Center members receive a discount on ticketed events, classes and camps tuition, purchases at ARTspace gift shops, and free or discounted admission to many special events. Memberships are available at the Arts Center, by visiting, and/or by calling 920-458-6144.

Arts Center Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.