Madison Public Library - CODAworx

Madison Public Library

Submitted by Trent Miller

Client: Madison Public Library

Location: madison, WI, United States

Completion date: 2013

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team


Trent Miller

Madison Public Library

Art Consultant

Karin Wolf

Madison Arts Commission


Bryan Cooper

City of Madison Department of Public Works Engineering Division

Interior Designer

Traci Lesneski

Principal/Head of Interiors at MSR Ltd.


Jennifer Collins

Executive Director Madison Public Library Foundation


A recent $30-million renovation to the Madison Public Library in Madison, WI added a new third floor and 25,000 square feet of space to the existing 95,000 square-foot building, originally constructed in 1965. Thanks to the efforts of architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle of Minneapolis, City of Madison design engineer Bryan Cooper, Madison Public Library Foundation director Jennie Collins and Madison Arts Commission administrator Karin Wolf, the new Central Library showcases art created by local, national and international artists. Currently, the Central Library's permanent collection contains a mixture of 13 large-scale works from the original building and the renovated space.


Our goal in integrating commissioned artwork into the renovated building at Madison Central Library was to feature art throughout the entire space. The Madison Public Library showcases rotating exhibits on the first, second and third floors. On the ground level, a maker-focused space known as The Bubbler welcomes six artists-in-residence each year. As a result, art is located literally around every corner. In this arts-focused environment, we wanted to develop a strong permanent art collection to exist alongside our temporary installations. From Niki Johnson’s piece STACKED to QUESTION MARK by international husband-and-wife duo Robert Behar and Rosario Marquardt (of R&R Studios), the permanent art at Madison Central Library either incorporates materials from the library itself or highlights ideas regarding the goals and themes of the library in general. Artists Derek Buisch and Sofia Arnold created large-scale wall graphics that integrate with the architectural features of the new building and cover three entire floors of the new library. We also worked to preserve artwork from the original building and showcase these pieces along with the new work. In this, we hope that library patrons can experience a large-scale piece of art no matter where they stand in the new building.


A great deal of collaboration between many parties brought this large-scale project to life. The architectural firm of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Karin Wolf of The Madison Arts Commission, Trent Miller of Madison Public Library, Bryan Cooper of the City of Madison, Jennifer Collins of The Madison Public Library Foundation worked in very close collaboration to select artists, choose locations for the new pieces, prepare artworks for installation and install the finished pieces. This team also worked to restore and integrate artwork from the original central library building into the new space. Artists took into account the design of the new building when creating their works, at times repurposing materials from the original library and/or creating installations to integrate with specific architectural elements of the new space. The energy provided by the artwork helps the sleekly modern space of the new Central Library to come alive with the placement of the art throughout the building. With its large open areas and expansive white walls, the renovated building provides a perfect canvas for the pops of color and varied forms of all the art, both old and new. We feel that the success of the project lies in this mix.

Additional Information

“Madison’s new public library is a redefinition of what a library can be and a show place for art” –Mary Louise Schumacher of the Journal Sentinel. Sept. 23, 2013