Public Museum's former art director honored with public service award

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Public Museum's former art director was honored Tuesday, September 25th for his impact on the city.

Edward Anthony Green served as MPM's art director for 33 years -- retiring in 1984. Green was honored with the Zeidler Public Service Award.

Projects in which he was the driving creative force include the "Streets of Old Milwaukee" exhibit and Mitchell International Airport's "Gallery of Flight" exhibit.

Colleagues credit Mr. Green with pioneering the diorama in what became known as “the Milwaukee style” of museum, where visitors can walk among culturally significant artifacts and architecture instead of staring at them through the dusty glass of locked exhibit cases. In the decades that followed the opening of Streets of Old Milwaukee in 1965, museums around the world would imitate and expand upon the idea, which now seems commonplace.

Green was also a major force in helping to create Henry Maier Festival Park along Milwaukee's lakefront -- the site of the annual Summerfest music festival.

Growing up on Milwaukee’s south side, graduating from South Division High School in 1940 and with no formal training, Mr. Green took on an architectural apprenticeship—until his first career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Mr. Green enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, and his service took him across the Atlantic Ocean 40 times and the Pacific Ocean 12 times. He remained active with the Coast Guard Auxiliary for 16 years.

Green said he almost left Milwaukee a few times, but was convinced to stay.

"When I got some great offers in other areas that would have tripled, and in one case in Washington at the Smithsonian complex would have been five times my salary, our kids pleaded 'don't go all our friends are here,'" Green said.

Green has been busy since retiring, staying active as an unpaid consultant for the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, the Great Lakes Naval Training Center Museum, the Circus World Museum and the Allis Art Museum, among others.

The Frank P. Zeidler award acknowledges residents whose efforts most embody the values and vision of former Mayor Zeidler. Elected public officials are not eligible to receive the honor.

Frank Zeidler, the city’s last socialist mayor, died July 7, 2006 at age 93. He served as mayor from 1948 until 1960, and continued to be a voice for social justice and public  service until his death.