About the Art Preserve

Experience the power of artist-built environments. Explore the wonder of these unique works of art year-round at the Art Preserve. Admission is free.

The Art Preserve showcases the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s internationally renowned collection of artist-built environments, which includes complete and partial environments by more than 30 vernacular, self-taught, and academically trained artists. Read more about artist-built environments.

Previously, the 25,000 works in the collection could be seen only when on view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center or on loan for exhibition at other institutions.

A combination of immersive tableaux that evoke the nature of original sites and curated visible storage offer visitors a range of experiences with the art. Whether walking through the installations or discovering the contents of curated storage drawers, visitors have unprecedented access to this fascinating art form.

On the first level, for example, guests can enter a facsimile of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s pastel-colored Milwaukee home. Inside, a selection of his photographs, paintings, sculptures, and other works are presented based on historical photographs; additional works can be viewed in curated storage cabinets and on racks.

Throughout the building, works by Levi Fisher Ames, Emery Blagdon, Loy Bowlin, Nek Chand, Annie Hooper, Jesse Howard, Mary Nohl, Dr. Charles Smith, Fred Smith, Lenore Tawney, Stella Waitzkin, Ray Yoshida, and Albert Zahn join Von Bruenchenhein’s in this evocative approach to presenting artist-built environments.

While safely housing the Arts Center’s expanding collection, the Art Preserve also addresses the growing scholarly interest in these artists. Several art-environment builders’ archives, including Nohl, Von Bruenchenhein, and Howard, will now be accessible year-round to scholars and researchers seeking deeper understanding of the artists’ processes and inspirations.

The impressive three-level building, designed by Tres Birds of Denver, Colorado, embraces an aesthetic in harmony with the work it houses. The architects incorporated materials favored by the creators of art environments into the building’s exterior façade and interior. The Art Preserve also incorporates innovative structures and technologies that protect the artwork while allowing the beauty of the natural setting to infiltrate the space. In addition, the design complements the surrounding habitats and respects land conservancy initiatives related to adjacent acreage along the Sheboygan River. Read more about the building.

For information about activities and tours at the Art Preserve, call 920-458-6144.

The Art Preserve of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is located at 3636 Lower Falls Road on Sheboygan’s west side.