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12 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week: Wisconsin Art Museum Aims to Become ‘Most Open’ in America

The Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin.

COURTESY THE CHAZEN/ANTON GRASSI

The Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin in Madison will soon be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., every single day of the week, as part of an effort by its leadership to reacher a larger and more diverse audience.

That expansive 12-hour day is an extreme rarity for an American museum, and doing it all week is pretty much unprecedented. The change, which takes effect in September, means that the Chazen will have the most hours of operation among 200 North American art museums that participate in an annual survey of their practices by the Association of Art Museum Directors.

The museum is jumping to the 84-hour week from a current schedule of 53 hours, with various opening and closing times Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free.

Amy Gilman, the Chazen’s director, said in a release, “True accessibility starts with our doors being open. We all lead busy lives and we would love to see students, faculty, community members, and tourists drop in for a few moments, for an hour, or on a schedule that makes sense for them.”

“This is just one example of how, by thinking differently, we can welcome more people and make the experience more enjoyable,” Gilman added. “Over the next year we will be exploring how we can make additional changes in this same spirit.”

Announcing its new hours, the Chazen said it will also open a new restaurant, called the Chazen Café. Located on the first floor of the building, it will start business in September.

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