The Anderson Arts Center at Kemper Center will reopen Feb. 23 after a $4.3 million renovation project.
The arts center, “one of the hubs for art in southeastern Wisconsin,” will begin a new chapter when it reopens, said Rena Lee, the arts center’s new administrator.
The first official day for the “new” arts center starts with an opening reception from 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 23. The public is invited to view the exhibits — including “Artistic Expression from a Diverse Collection” by the League of Milwaukee Artists and “Renewal” by members of the Area Artists Group — and enjoy refreshments. Admission is free.
The arts center will also host an invitation-only event on Feb. 22 for city and county officials, Anderson Arts Center board members, artists, donors and members of the Anderson Family.
The 9,000-square-foot, 30-room Anderson Arts Center was built between 1929 and 1931 as a home for the Anderson family. In 1977, Janet Lance Anderson deeded her house to Kenosha County to be part of the Kemper Center park grounds. She continued to live in the house until her death in 1989, at the age of 96, and the home officially became a part of the Kemper Center in 1990.
The Anderson Arts Center opened in April 1992 and, since that date, has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to view more than 25 art exhibitions each year, participate in art and music programs and attend other events.
The revamped arts center features a new geothermal heating and cooling system, new handicapped accessible bathrooms, a repaired roof and exterior walls, new landscaping and updated gallery spaces and hanging systems.
“We are very excited to be able to reopen the new and improved Anderson Arts Center. You can feel how special the building is as soon as you enter,” said Edward Kubicki, executive director of the Kemper Center. “The updates will allow us to show even more artwork from more diverse artists from all over the region.”
The yearlong renovation, funded jointly by the city and county of Kenosha, began in January 2019 because of external repairs needed on the 90-year-old building. Madison-based InSite Consulting Architects and Kenosha-based Camosy Construction handled the project.
“This project really shows how the city and county can work together for the good of the community,” Kubicki said.
Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said he was pleased to partner with the city and the nonprofit Kemper Center “to help preserve a community jewel.”
This project, he said, “ensures that the Anderson Arts Center will grace our lakefront for generations to come. I thank the mayor for his support and the great project team that orchestrated a first-class restoration of this historic building.”
Kenosha County Public Works Director Ray Arbet said the project team — led by the county’s engineering project manager, Frank Martinelli, and staff members from InSite Architects and Camosy Construction — “did an excellent job of designing and managing the project.”
“This was a complex project requiring a balance between the restoration of the building’s historical integrity while simultaneously installing a high-tech, energy-efficient building environment control system,” Arbet said. “All of this was accomplished under the project’s budget.”
The Anderson Arts Center “has been a gem in the community for many years,” said Mayor John Antaramian. “The city is pleased to support the efforts to update the building and ensure it remains a showcase for art in Kenosha.”
After the opening day on Feb. 23, the arts center will be open 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. The current exhibitions will be open through May 2. Admission is free. The Anderson Arts Center is funded through donors and sponsors, grants, and artwork and gift shop sales. No tax dollars are used to fund it. For more information, visit www.andersonartscenter.com or call 262-653-0481.