Mary Nohl’s Art Environment in danger

Our book IN MARY’S GARDEN is the story of Wisconsin artist Mary Nohl (1914-2001). We have been working on this book together over ten years, we believe Mary’s story needs to be shared with the world.

However, there is suddenly a new sense of urgency to Mary’s story: due to the ongoing opposition of a handful of wealthy neighbors, the John Michael Kohler Art Center (entrusted with preserving and protecting Mary’s work) is planning to dismantle all of Mary’s work and move it to a new location outside of Milwaukee. Debra Bremer writes, “…moving Mary Nohl’s site is not preserving it. It is creating a facsimile, an approximation, a managed and guided experience that is divorced from its most significant context: its place.”

According to this article by Michael Horne, the JMKAC had a perfectly reasonable proposal for allowing limited public access to Mary’s property, but was met with continuing opposition from a few vocal neighbors. “With a different mentality from its residents and political leaders, Fox Point could turn Nohl…into [a] worthy destination for limited tourism.” 

Why isn’t the Village of Fox Point fighting to keep this treasure in their community? Are they unaware of the major cultural significance of Mary’s creation, which has become a beloved touchstone for generations of Milwaukeeans? Is the City of Milwaukee aware of what will be lost? Why are only the voices of these few wealthy neighbors being heard? Also, Mary’s other legacy is the Mary L. Nohl Fund, she gifted the Greater Milwaukee Foundation with $11 MILLION to support the Milwaukee art community. Shouldn’t Mary’s art stay in Milwaukee?

We are hopeful a compromise can be reached between the Village of Fox Point and the JMKAC to keep Mary home.

On July 10th, there will be a public forum at the Milwaukee Art Museum, if you are in the area, please attend and show your support for Mary’s work. Thank you! #SaveMaryNohl


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