The Strohmaier Sculpture & Botanical Garden, which surrounds the Wilson Center and is located adjacent to the new Burke Colonnade, is created by the Southeast Wisconsin Master Gardeners, Inc. (SEWMG) to enhance the visual appeal of the immediate grounds through the botanical arts. In June 2009, the Wilson Center became an SEWMG-approved garden to provide an appealing educational experience for the community. Approximately 30 gardens in SE Wisconsin have gained approval including hospital healing gardens, local school projects, and gardens in other major attractions such as the Milwaukee County Zoo, Ten Chimneys, and Old World Wisconsin.

Two beds have already been transformed at the Wilson Center by Master Gardeners and community volunteers. One bed was dedicated to native perennials in 2009, and a butterfly garden was established in the following year. In 2012, the butterfly garden was registered as a Monarch Way Station providing a habitat conducive to Monarch preservation. The garden contains several types of milkweed and many nectar plants. Plants are identified by markers labeled with both scientific name and common names.

Numerous plein air classes have already taken place in the gardens, including a family nature photography class led by SEWMG volunteers which provided exploration and learning opportunities to students of all ages.

Community support is encouraged. For more information about the garden or volunteer opportunities, contact Master Gardener Dottie Feder or the Wilson Center Facilities Manager.


One of the first visual impressions of the Wilson Center has become an eye-catching landscape that greatly enhances the arts-rich environment. Combining the beauty of nature with state-of-the-art sustainable technology, the Wilson Center unveiled its newest building enhancement at our annual arts education fundraiser, The Big Event, on June 3, 2017: The Burke Colonnade.  

Combining the beauty of whole trees from nature with state-of-the-art technology, The Burke Colonnade is a breathtaking structure designed by WholeTrees Architecture and Structures that reimagines the area adjacent to the Kuttemperoor Grand Hall.

Long-term plans surrounding the Colonnade include collecting rainwater from the roof into an integrated system of artfully designed downspouts, woven throughout the pathways, and through a “seep wall” to gently infiltrate and become part of the water system in a more environmentally responsible way.

Click here  to view one example of flit's lighting capabilities!

Click here to view one example of flit's lighting capabilities!


Wisconsin artist Nizar Schaller drew his inspiration for Flit while watching a sparrow on the campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture that was building its nest. “The sculpture is a tribute to nature. Growth in nature happens over extended periods of time; when you go out into the garden to observe a plant, it doesn’t seem to change, but if you go a week later and then another week later, it is completely transformed,” said Schaller. “There’s an underlying geometry, but the unfolding is never the same.”

Selected by jury and public vote as the winner of the Circle Drive Sculpture Contest and unveiled at the Wilson Center's premier arts education fundraiser, The Big Event, on June 4, 2016, Flit stands 15 feet tall in the Soerens Circle Drive outside the Wilson Center main entrance. Flit's graceful presence creates interesting shadows by day and a lighted presence by night. A programmable 122-LED light array offers opportunities for connection art and technology.

About the artist: Nizar Schaller is an artist and designer, with training in both the United Kingdom and South Africa. Exploring relationships between natural and built environments, Schaller takes a philosophical approach to his creative processes and design principles. Structural interventions are used to echo the natural environment, creating a place for open discourse and social exchange. His work exists in its natural state, combining raw materials with manmade to question the perception of natural environments. Schaller holds a Bachelor’s of Architectural Studies from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is a Master of Architectural Studies candidate from the Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. He has worked as a designer and architect contributing to both residential and commercial projects; most recently, he designed and built an architectural folly on the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture Campus in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Recent awards include the Taliesin Fellows Scholarship Award.

Click here to watch a WISN 12 NEWS interview between Nizar Schaller and WISN co-anchor Melinda Davenport.

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Submitted as a design concept by the internationally known Gail Simpson and Aristotle Georgiades and selected as the winner of the ArtsPark Summer 2015 Sculpture Contest, the acorn-shaped Host is designed to interact with nature, with its shape and color to reflect the natural setting of its installation site: the North Woods location on the north side of the Wilson Center. Oak trees are an important part of the natural environment of Wisconsin as well as its history. At least seven kinds of oak trees are native to the area and several significant oaks are located on the grounds of Mitchell Park, some dating as far back as 1750. According to Simpson and Georgiades, “The acorn seems like an apt metaphor for the role of the Wilson Center in the community—helping residents and visitors grow into their potential as citizens and stewards of the culture and environment." The compartments in the sculpture will be built to contain plant material during the growing season, and during the winter, bird seed can be placed in the compartments to create visual and educational interest during the colder months. The synergy of Host's location provides ArtsPark a unique potential for educating our community on forest preservation.

Materials: Aluminum framework, salvaged lumber, paint, plant material

Dimensions: 6' h x 50" dia.

About the artists: Gail Simpson and Aristotle Georgiades are sculptors and public artists who work individually and as part of Actual Size Artworks, a collaborative team. We are committed to the idea of artist as citizen and believe in the transformative potential of artwork in the community. Our work is characterized by a strong profile, a sense of humor, and excellent craftsmanship. Our public art projects can be seen in Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Nevada, Kansas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois, and other locations nationally. We have also exhibited temporary projects around the United States and Europe. Simpson has an MFA in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is originally from Chicago. Her individual work expresses her interest in the intersection between the built and natural environment. Aristotle Georgiades is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from University of Michigan. His sculptures use salvaged building materials and objects, related to issues of adaptability and the changing nature of work, usefulness, and ambition. His work can be seen at Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago. Both artists reside in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and teach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 


Designed to act as benches or simply to artistically enhance the landscape on the east lawn of the Wilson Center, Terese Agnew’s Varied Recurrence already proves that art can be admired and functional. Starry Nights patrons vie for its use and Arts Campers adore it for seating and art tables. Varied Recurrence is a series of cast concrete sculptures resembling the stumps of native Wisconsin trees. Recalling the origin of theatre, Agnew’s design concept emulates the custom of the early Greeks in gathering for a theatrical performance. In the year 2050, students from the School District of Elmbrook will open “time capsules” that they buried under the sculptures. The hope is that future musicians, artists, and actors from Elmbrook Schools will return to see where their artistic careers began.


The path of water, as it flows over our land, filling our lakes,
rivers and streams is the path of life. Created by artist Susan Falkman, who also created Streaming located in the Wilson Center's Kuttemperoor Grand Hall, Water’s Way is a visual representation of one aspect of that journey. Carved from red granite, the sculpture is virtually indestructible. Rain falls, filling a polished basin at the top that overflows and runs down the face of the granite through cut grooves that represent a river. The river starts from a narrow point at basin and widens as it flows toward the bottom. From the hillside above the sculpture, the river cut into the face of the red granite suggests the graceful shape of a feminine form, a drawing in the stone. The drawing is echoed in two granite benches set at angles just near the opening of the river and opposite from the basin. From one side of each bench, a rain garden can be seen, where native plants create a home for butterflies, birds, and other native life forms. From the other side of either bench is the view of the sculpture and the parkway beyond.