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  • All Kohler: the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and the Kohler Design Center Field Trip

All Kohler: the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and the Kohler Design Center Field Trip

  • August 21, 2019
  • Sheboygan and Kohler
  • 3


  • Registration fee includes Badger Bus (with Wi-Fi), a one-hour docent led tour of the Kohler Arts Center, and admission to the James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden.

    NOTE: Member ($59) with guest ($74) will cost a total of $133. TO ADD YOUR GUEST: click on the "ADD GUEST" button at the bottom of the registration form and enter the guest information, as indicated. Thank you.

    Lunch is not included.

    There is no admission charge to the Kohler Design Center or the John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Estimated Trip Duration:
Oakwood West: 7:45 AM - 6:35 PM
Capitol Lakes: 8:10 AM - 6:15 PM
East Towne Sears: 8:30 AM - 5:45 PM

Registration Deadline August 18

Note: If you cancel after the registration deadline, there will be no refund
Registration is closed

John Michael Kohler Arts Center

A nationally acclaimed visual and performing arts complex, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is devoted to innovative explorations in contemporary American art. Its exhibitions focus on a wide range of art forms, with particular emphasis on sculpture, photography, crafts, new genres, installation art, ongoing folk traditions, and the work of self-taught artists.  The center has ten galleries, a theater, performance and meeting spaces, studio-classrooms, an all ages/all abilities activity space known as The ARTery, an on-site retail shop called ARTspace, and a cafe named ARTcafe.

We will spend 2 1/4 hours at the Kohler Arts Center..  There will be a one-hour docent led tour and you will have the rest of the time to explore on your own.

Exhibitions featured during our visit include:


Collective Consciousness: Mark Baum

Born in 1903 in what is now Poland, Mark Baum (1903-1997) used painting as a mechanism to document and examine the changing philosophical and technological concerns of the twentieth century.  Collective Consciousness is the first museum exhibition of Baum’s enigmatic oeuvre and will include representative paintings from each phase of his fifty-year practice.


The Autotopographers

In a 1995 essay, art historian Jennifer Gonzalez coined the term "autopography" to articulate the ways in which aspects of biography can be revealed in the creation of one's environment. Selected for their compelling ability to blend autobiography, history, and contemporary art practices, the artists participating in the exhibition use a variety of methodologies and materials to explore aspects of the self.


Dr. Charles Smith - Aurora

The Arts Center draws from its renowned collection of artist-built environments to present more than 150 works by Dr. Charles Smith, most of which have not been on view since the dismantling of his Aurora, Illinois, environment in 1999.


Beauty Surplus: Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels

Brooklyn-based artist Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels (NY) is interested in the intersections of site-specific architecture and interdependent ecosystems.For her Open House Project installation, Fels investigates the architecture of the historic John Michael Kohler home and proposes interrelated sculptural forms that suggest change and transformation. Each room of the John Michael Kohler house galleries will be altered through a variety of ecologically inspired interventions.



The John Michael Kohler Arts Center draws as many visitors to its famed washrooms as it does to its art exhibitions. These six gorgeous spaces—each commissioned to a different resident artist—are meant to symbolize the connection between art and industry. The Kohler Co. gave the artists full rein of its shops and foundries to explore new techniques in pottery, iron, enamel, and brass. The results are on permanent display (and use) in various wings of the center. Matt Nolen’s Social History of Architecture has a hand-glazed, floor-to-ceiling mural chronicling the history of architecture, while Ann Agee’s east men’s room is tiled in blue and white and centers on a theme of water.

Kohler Design Center

The Kohler Design Center is the Kohler Company museum showcase of product design.  The main floor showcases the products of the companies that comprise the Kohler family of businesses.  It features Kohler's own "great wall of china", a floor-to-ceiling display of plumbing fixtures in all shapes, sizes and colors.  In the lower level is an arts gallery developed by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. 

From a recent review on TripAdvisor: "This design center is a blast...........just to see all the latest in faucets, bathroom fixtures and how they are laid out is fascinating and gives you wonderful ideas if planning to remodel or build a home. And, of course, you have to see the Wall of China.  And, in the lower level, is the history of the Village of Kohler and a sampling of what is exhibited at the Kohler Arts Center in downtown Sheboygan. A truly fun and enlightening place to visit."

You will have 45 minutes to explore the Design Center on your own.

James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden

The James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden is nestled in the Town of Wilson woods just south of Sheboygan. This site, cared for by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, is dotted with sculptures loosely connected by a woodland path.

James Tellen (1880–1957) was inspired to create his sculptures after a stay recuperating at St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan. He spent time gazing out his window at the yard of the Holy Name Church across the street where there were intriguing grottos built of rounded stones with statues of the Virgin Mary and other holy figures. A devout Catholic, Tellen was receptive to the power of these figures integrated in a natural setting. Uniting his interest in art, nature, and religion, Tellen decided to tackle large-scale sculpting, using concrete rather than marble or stone to mold his outdoor pieces.

You will have 30 minutes to explore the sculpture garden on your own.  If it is raining we will skip the garden and return to Madison after the John Michael Kohler Art Museum.

Lunch at The Shops at Woodlake Kohler

You will have one hour for lunch on your own at the Shops at Woodlake Center at Kohler.   Dining is available at Cucina, Craverie Chocolatier Café, Brewed Awakening, and Woodlake Market Atrium Café.


Bear in mind that our boarding bus route is like Madison Metro or any other municipal bus service. Please arrive early at your boarding stop so you don’t miss the bus. When everyone is aboard and seated, we leave.

– Don’t be late. We can wait just 5 minutes at any one location.

– Pack water bottles and snacks for sustenance on the journey.

Leave Madison

7:30 AM     Bus arrives at Oakwood for boarding

7:45 AM     Departs Oakwood

8:10 AM     Departs Capitol Lakes

8:30 AM     Departs East Towne Sears                                    


10:30 AM     Arrives at Kohler Design Center

11:30 AM     Arrives at Shops at Woodlake Center

12:30 PM     Departs for Sheboygan


12:45 PM    Arrives at John Michael Kohler Arts Center

1:00 PM      One-hour docent-led tour of the Arts Center

3:00 PM      Departs for James Tellen Sculpture Garden

3:45 PM      Departs for Madison

Return to Madison (Estimate)

5:45 PM      Arrives at East Towne Sears

6:15 PM      Arrives at Capitol Lakes

6:35 PM      Arrives at Oakwood Village West

Accessibility Policy: On the Badger Bus, you must be able to climb steps to board and exit the bus.

Non-Member Policy: Members must register their guests. Each PLATO member is entitled to bring one non-member guest per bus trip. Members may bring more than one guest near the registration deadline date if seats are available. Check with trip organizer.  Non-member guests pay an additional $15.00 registration fee.

PLATO Membership: PLATO membership is $60.00/year and all memberships renew on July 1.  If you join between April 1 and November 30 you will pay the full membership fee of $60.  If you join between December 1 and March 31 you pay half the membership fee - $30.

Mail-In Registration Form:  All Kohler Trip Mail-In Registration Form.pdf

For further information contact Kohler Trip Organizer

Bob Shaw robert.e.shaw@gmail.com - 608-255-3486


PLATO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in association with:

For more information about PLATO, contact:

Edie Urness-Pondillo
UW-Madison Continuing Studies
21 N. Park St, 7th Floor, Madison, WI 53715
Email: info@platomadison.org
Phone: 608-262-5823
Fax: 608-265-4555

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