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MKE: On the Creative Map

(pronounced ‘mill-e-wah-que’)

A rich heritage, a thriving culture, and long history have created myriad references and nicknames for Milwaukee.  “MKE,” “The Brew City,” and “The Good Land” are only a few of the common phrases used to describe the 30th most populous city in the United States.  Once the home of four of the world’s largest breweries, “The Brew City” characterizes one of Milwaukee’s dominant industries. A unique yellow brick abounds in downtown warehouses, homes and other buildings, evoking the name “Cream City.” Numerous summer festivals have Milwaukee coined as “The City of Festivals,” and the season includes Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival.  But, there are other characterizations of Milwaukee, such as being named a 2013 Top 12 ArtPlace in America, and the 6th best college destination for mid-sized metropolitan areas.

‘Walk Around Milwaukee’ video: more at

Milwaukee has other distinct features, often described in a single breath as a small city and big town. The atmosphere is friendly and down-to-earth with a subtle Midwestern charm (think America’s Heartland), and there is a genuine sense of community. And while the general attitude is small-town oriented, Milwaukee has many attributes that you’d find in a large city, such as professional sports teams, museums and galleries, and an incredible variety of restaurants and retailers. Friendly, livable and affordable, the city embraces college students, with several colleges and universities close to the downtown area.


Milwaukee Skyline

Lake Michigan provides a spot to cool off during the warm spring and summer months, and is a great place to bike, run, or rent a paddleboat. In winter, the lake is quietly beautiful, with frozen sheets of slowly moving ice, and Lafayette Hill nearby for sledding. Milwaukee’s Lake Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park, and has miles of beaches and adjacent parks.

Once known as a brewing and manufacturing mecca, Milwaukee has truly become a dynamic, contemporary city with strong support for the arts. The Historic Third Ward is one of the fastest-growing residential, commercial, and creative areas in Wisconsin. The internationally renowned Calatrava expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, in large part funded by the community, is a sight to behold. The museum graces the lakefront and is within walking distance of MIAD. Theater companies and dance troupes thrive here, as do music groups of every variety. Public sculpture can be found along the Riverwalk and in many places throughout the city. Milwaukee also hosts highly popular, quarterly Gallery Nights, with galleries and museums staying open late to feature discussions with artists, designers, and curators.

So, if you’re looking for a place on the creative map, MKE is it.


View more images in the Milwaukee Image Gallery

For more information on Milwaukee:

**We acknowledge that in Milwaukee, we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami (Big Lake), part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present.**


Battle of the Bands: Product Design class showdown

French Renaissance alt rock met space cowboy country from the future in one Product Design class at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). Students in Storytelling: Compelling Narrative of the Design Process were tasked with creating a band, complete with newly designed instruments, stage plots and lighting, costumes and even a feature on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary work: Growing Resistance

In the 50th anniversary year at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), the college presents “Growing Resistance: Untold Stories of Milwaukee’s Community Guardians,” an exhibition in the Brooks Stevens Gallery running January 8 – March 2, 2024. Related programs include zine making, a book club, student-guided tours and a story circle with community partners.

Metalwork and molds: MIAD alum on Kohler Residency

Eye-opening and awe-inspiring: this is how Nirmal Raja ’08 (Painting) describes learning to work with liquid metal. The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) alum recently completed the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/Industry Residency in Kohler, Wisconsin.

MIAD Values Recognition Award: Dale Shidler

Dale Shidler, Professor of Communication Design, received the January 2024 MIAD Values Recognition Award at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). Dale’s nominations highlighted his embodiment of MIAD’s Core Values, especially Integrity, Kindness and Community.

MIAD students, alumni, faculty create work for ThriveOn King

Four Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) community members will contribute to the first floor of the new ThriveOn King community hub on North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. They make up part of the 20 Milwaukee artists who will convey the history and heritage of Bronzeville in this collaborative space.