Racine Art Museum

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Racine Art Museum
Racine Art Museum and RAM’s Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts
RAM on Main Street.jpg
Established November 16, 1941
Location Racine, Wisconsin
Website www.ramart.org

The Racine Art Museum and RAM’s Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts are located in Racine, Wisconsin.


This was created by the WPA. The Charles A. Wustum Museum was founded in 1941. Jennie E. Wustum, widow of Charles A. Wustum, donated their house, property and small trust fund to the City of Racine, Wisconsin. She had wanted to create an art museum and park that would benefit future generations of the Racine community. In 1941, her donation formally became the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts through the cooperative efforts of the City of Racine and the Racine Art Association (now the Racine Art Museum Association, Inc.)

Sylvester Jerry was named the first Director of the Wustum Museum. He oversaw its grand opening on November 16, 1941. The building and program began to grow, especially in Racine’s community in the larger sense. Early support of the museum came from many sources, both individuals and organizations. Western Publishing Company furnished supplies for the classes. Chicago artists exhibited at the museum; Evan Dimitry, a photographer for Life magazine, appeared at fundraisers. Various groups, such as the Racine Camera Club and Charles A. Wustum Flower Guild met at the museum adding to its visibility.

In 1986, the museum received professional accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, an accomplishment achieved by fewer than 5% of museums nationwide.


The Racine Art Museum (RAM) is located in downtown Racine, Wisconsin. RAM defines its mission as “to elevate the stature of craft to fine arts by presenting collections of ceramics, fibers, glass, metals and wood alongside painting and sculpture based on similarities in artist’s concepts, rather than strict media categorization. The museum plans to continue to collect work of artists who illustrate the diversity of expression and culture. By focusing on education and community outreach, RAM works to present visitors with opportunities to understand, experience and learn about the value of contemporary craft as fine art.”

RAM was first conceived when Wustum’s galleries could exhibit no more than just 10% of the growing collection a year. The construction of RAM was facilitated by two large donations from the SC Johnson Fund and M&I Bank of Racine. The RAM Museum Store opened on November 17, 2002 and the grand opening of the entire museum was May 11, 2003.

RAM’s architecture is a continuation of a rich architectural tradition in the city of Racine. Designed by the award-winning firm, Brininstool & Lynch, the museum features 46,000 square feet (4,300 m2) of space devoted to galleries, an art library, a sculpture courtyard and a collections storage and care area. The outside of the building features an exterior clad in translucent acrylic panels. The panels are an interesting architectural point of interest and create an aesthetic “exoskeleton” for the building. The acrylic facade is lighted from dusk until 10 p.m. The building’s architecture also features qualities meant to interact with the larger community, such as large frameless windows along the sidewalks to accommodate displays of artwork, which stimulate the public to interact with the artists’ work. The building also was created with environmentally friendly concepts, such as the floor backing being created out of recycled rubber from automobile tires.

The two museum campuses are still an integral part of Racine’s community. RAM’s Wustum Museum continues to feature regional and local artists while carrying on the tradition of hosting the museum’s arts education and community out-reach programs – the largest of its kind in the state of Wisconsin. RAM features artists with national and international reputations and rotating exhibitions from its collection of contemporary crafts and works on paper.

Bruce Pepich, the Executive Director of RAM, was named a 2012 Honorary Fellow by the American Craft Council. This award recognizes individuals and organizations for excellence in craftsmanship and significant contributions to the field of contemporary American craft. Fellows must have demonstrated extraordinary artistic ability and must have worked 25 years or more in the discipline or career in which they are being recognized.[1][2]

The Collection[edit]

Growing out of a small collection of 300 pieces of 1930s art from the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project, the museum began to concentrate its efforts on acquiring works on paper by artists with regional and national reputations. In 1989, a second focus in contemporary crafts was established. Since then, an impressive collection of ceramics, fibers, glass, metals and wood from nationally and internationally recognized artists has been assembled. RAM now possesses one of the largest collections of contemporary crafts of any North American museum, including large collections of contemporary teapots, baskets and artist-made jewelry. RAM’s permanent collection features more than 4,000 artworks from internationally recognized artists such as: Dale Chihuly, Tim Lowly, Joel Philip Myers, Toshiko Takaezu, Wendell Castle, Arline Fisch and Albert Paley.

Ceramics: The museum’s ceramics collection numbers over 600 objects that include internationally known ceramic sculptors such as Rudy Autio, Richard DeVore, Adrian Saxe, Akio Takamori, Toshiko Takaezu, Robert Turner, and Barbara Sorensen. The museum also has one of the largest ceramic teapot collections in the United States, a donation from collector Donna Moog. The collection encompasses over 300 ceramic teapots that span from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Glass: The glass collection contains works from artists Harvey Littleton, Dale Chihuly, Joel Philip Meyers, Dan Dailey, Steven Hodder and Judy Jensen. Most of the works in the glass collection are sculptural rather than functional.

Metals: The museum’s collection includes one of the largest groupings of contemporary jewelry of any art museum. The collection includes artists Robert Ebendorf, Arline Fisch, Eleanor Moty, Earl Pardon, Susan Kingsley, Ken Loeber, Albert Paley, Kevin O'Dwyer, Fred Fenster and Chunghi Choo.

Wood: The museum’s wood collection consists of vessels, as well as furniture. One of the highlights of the collection is a Wendell Castle desk that was in Objects USA. Other artists include Mark Lindquist, Gary Knox Bennett, George Nakashima, Jere Osgood, Dennis Elliott, David Ellsworth, John Cederquist, Thomas Hucker, and Michele Holzapfel.

Handmade Books: The museum owns a large number of handmade books, both hand-printed letterpress examples and larger editioned offset lithography works. The collection includes work from Scott McCarney, Patti Tyrol, Erica Von Horn, Don Celender, Dikko Frost, JoAnna Poehlmann, Jim Lee and Bonnie O’Connell. Donations from groups such as Printed Matter, and the Friends of Typography in Madison, Wisconsin have allowed the museum’s handmade book collection to flourish, becoming one of the largest collections of its kind in a Midwestern art museum.


  • The grounds of RAM’s Charles A. Wustum Museum were part of the Northwest Territory and homeland of the Potawatomi Indians until September 26, 1833.
  • The Bank, where RAM is now located, was robbed in November 1933 by John Dillinger.


  1. ^ Lee Roberts, An artistic life, Racine Journal Times, December 9, 2012.
  2. ^ Masters: Bruce Pepich, American Craft Council, September 17, 2012.

External links[edit]