Central Library

The Milwaukee Public Library’s Central Library opened in 1898 as a shared space with the Milwaukee Public Museum. The architectural firm of Ferry and Clas designed a Neo-Renaissance style U-shaped building. The building’s exterior is Bedford limestone. Much of the intricate outside carving was done by craftsmen standing on scaffolding. Interior materials include mahogany, oak, Sienna marble, tesserae tile and scagliola. Building additions in 1912 and 1957 filled in the “U” and added two stories above and four levels below ground. The newest feature on the building’s exterior is a green roof with solar panels.

Visitors to the Central Library may take a variety of tours of areas normally unavailable to the public. Tours will be provided for the rotunda Dome, the third basement below grade including the Drive-up Window, the 4th floor offices and workrooms that formerly served the Museum and the Green Roof, among other guided and self-guided tours. The Dome tour is not handicapped accessible, all others are fully accessible.

See tours to learn more about the archival tour offered at Central Library. 

Building Info :

814 W. Wisconsin Avenue (accessible entry at 813 W. Wells Street)
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
4:15 p.m.
George Bowman Ferry & Alfred C. Clas 1895-98; further additions in 1909, 1913 and 1931; new addition on Wells St. in 1956, Herbert J. Grassold and Elmer A. Johnson; drive up window added in 1966.
Fully handicapped accessible (except Dome)