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 the Neo-Renaissance style U-shaped building, using Bedford limestone for the building’s exterior. 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 1956 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 an array of other guided and self-guided tours. The Dome tour is not handicapped accessible, but all other tours are fully accessible.