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 won the design competition and built a Neo-Renaissance style U-shaped building. The exterior of the building is Bedford limestone. Much of the intricate outside carving was done by craftsmen standing on scaffolding. Interior materials include mahogany and oak hardwoods, brass, Sienna marble, plaster, stucco, tesserae tile and scagliola. The most recent addition to the building was completed in 1957 and added two stories above and four levels below ground. The most recent added feature to the building’s exterior is a green roof with solar panels.
Visitors to the Central Library may take a variety of ten minute tours of areas normally unavailable to the public. Tours will be provided every quarter hour for the rotunda Dome, the Old Board Room, the third basement below grade (including the Drive-up Window) and the automated book handling process. Tours will be provided every half hour for the 4th floor offices and workrooms that formerly served the Museum and the Green Roof. In addition, self-guided tours will be available for the Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room, the Chinese Room, and the Betty Brinn Children’s Room. The Dome tour is not handicapped accessible, all others are fully accessible.