Rahr-West Art Museum & City of Manitowoc Debut Elevator Access to Historic Vilas-Rahr Mansion
Manitowoc, WI (April 26, 2023) – The Rahr-West Art Museum will celebrate the recent completion of a $1.3 million accessibility renovation project, featuring full elevator access to the museum’s historic Vilas-Rahr Mansion, on Friday, May 19. The elevator will allow barrier-free access to the Mansion section of the museum, a National Register of Historic Places site, for the first time in the museum’s 72-year history.
The museum’s official ribbon cutting on Friday, May 19 will occur at 1pm. Some short remarks will be followed by light refreshments. The public is invited to join us to acknowledge this major step in making the museum fully accessible. The ribbon cutting will include project designers, builders, and representatives of state and local government and arts association, as well as members of the community for whom the elevator has given access to the museum for the first time. This event is free to the public.
The opening of this six-stop elevator – 4 floors of the Vilas-Rahr Mansion and 2 floors of the connected exhibition galleries – is decades in the making, with previous attempts hampered by architectural and financial limitations. The multi-year project was spearheaded by Rahr-West Art Museum staff and board, and funded through a Federal Community Development Block Grant administered through the State of Wisconsin, supplemented with support from the City of Manitowoc. The Rahr-West Art Museum is a City of Manitowoc facility. Renovation design was provided by Somerville Architects of Green Bay and project construction through Mike Koenig Construction of Sheboygan.
The elevator will provide full access to the museum, including the four main floors of the Vilas-Rahr Mansion. This addition will allow for future renovation of the mansion to expand visitor access. As part of the renovation, the mansion’s second floor underwent a complete redesign and is again open to the public.
“The addition of this elevator is nothing short of transformative,” said Museum Executive Director Greg Vadney. “It allows us to fulfill our goal of bringing more people more access to more of our collection.” This is the final of many attempts by the museum and the City of Manitowoc to add accessibility features to the 1893 Queen Anne-style Victorian Mansion since it opened in 1950 as the Rahr Museum and Civic Center. The elevator renovation establishes the Rahr-West Art Museum as a fully accessible facility.