Madison’s Best Contemporary Art Galleries and Museums

Vincent JS Wood

Sitting on the banks of the Yahara River, Madison is Wisconsin’s cultural hotbed,with numerous art galleries, museums and exhibition spaces dotted around the city. Nationally acclaimed events such as the annual Art Fair on the Square have contributed to Madison’s solid reputation in the world of arts and crafts, but it’s the everyday exhibitions and local efforts that really make the city stand out. Our cultural guide explores ten of the best contemporary art galleries and museums in Madison.

1. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art


Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI
© Franco Folini / Flickr
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMOCA) has been open since 1901 and in that time has found itself at the forefront of modern art. Providing free exhibitions for locals and visitors alike the museum features highly regarded and esteemed contemporary artists from across the globe. Workshops and lectures are put on throughout the year and specific nights such as Rooftop Cinemahave seen them expand into other mediums of contemporary art other than just static installations. Opening a new facility in 2006 the MMoCA is a fully equipped, modern facility for the preservation and presentation of contemporary art.

2. James Watrous Gallery

Art Gallery

Part of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, the James Watrous Gallery has a strong focus on work produced and owned by Wisconsin residents and strongly promotes the craft history of the region. It also puts on exhibitions with the explicit aim of trying to bridge the gap between the arts, sciences and humanities thus creating a space to inform and entertain. Named after an influential figure in the Wisconsin art world, who was both a renowned artist and art historian, the James Watrous Gallery tries to maintain this legacy of the region producing great and exciting contemporary art works by inviting local artists to contact them about showcasing their works.

3. Hyart Gallery


Wetiko, Liana Buszka, Litograph
Courtesy Yellow Rose Gallery
A metal-art gallery that sees grand twisting sculptures next to intricately detailed jewelry pieces, Hyart is born from owner Hiroko Yamada’s childhood memories of learning traditional Japanese art, many years working in design and architecture and her time as a student learning metalsmithing at the University of Wisconsin. With featured artists who not only specialize in metal but also wood, ceramics, card, photography, glass and fibre, Hyart is an outlet for creative talent in a chic, modern setting that sees contemporary art and craftsmanship combined with its unique displays.

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