Layton Art Gallery

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


The Disappointed Tourist: Layton Art Gallery, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The Layton Art Gallery was built by Frederick Layton (1827 – 1919), an English-American businessman, philanthropist and art collector, who immigrated to the Wisconsin Territory with his father in 1843. He played a major role in the creation of Milwaukee’s meat packing industry and established a trans-Atlantic business exporting his meat products to Great Britain. The gallery was built In 1888, on the corner of Mason and Jefferson streets in Milwaukee and was one of the nation’s earliest single-patron public art galleries. The architect for the building was George Ashdown Audsley and the construction was carried out by Edward Townsend Mix. As part of their gift to the public, Layton and his wife stipulated that the gallery be open at least three days a week without charge for admission and that the facility be available to art students at least two days a week to copy the paintings in the gallery. He explained that the gallery would “be of benefit to our working people, as well as the more wealthy, since all may come and find pleasure and recreation in paying a visit to the gallery.” By creating an endowment for the gallery, and with donations from the gallery trustees and friends, Layton was personally able to purchase over 200 works of art for the gallery before dying at the age of 92. In 1957, the gallery merged with the Milwaukee Art Institute and the building was demolished in 1958. Most of the collection is now in the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Submitted by Anon.