How the Pfister’s Incredible Art Collection Strengthened My Marriage (Or At Least Got Us Out of the House Sans Toddlers and Goldfish Crackers)

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017

I treasure date nights.  With four children aged four and younger, a typical evening in our home can feel like a freefall into chaos.  Date nights whisper to us that we are still sane adults in love who can have a conversation that doesn’t involve repeating, “We are leaving in two minutes.  Did you hear me?  How many minutes do you have?  Two.  You are wasting all your minutes asking me for more minutes.  TWO, I SAID.”

My husband Sam and I escaped to a date night at the Pfister this week because the art that I usually breeze past as I traipse all over the hotel has been calling to me.  Did you know the Pfister is home to the largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world?  When I learned that there was an extensive, priceless collection of museum-quality art filling these halls, I couldn’t believe that in all our years in Milwaukee I’d never taken the time to walk through and see them all.  You don’t have to be an overnight guest to view these amazing pieces– Charles Pfister deemed the hotel “The Palace for the People”, and you’re invited to stroll through the Pfister anytime and view works by famous European and American artists.

So can I recommend a date night for you, or a fun outing with a small group of friends?  Start with a cocktail up in Blu– Sam and I got New Old Fashioneds during Happy Hour which is my current favorite there– and walk with your drink through the hotel as you find all the paintings in a beautiful scavenger hunt.  We picked up a booklet from the cafe that detailed each piece and its location in the hotel and checked them off as we went.

We had so much fun; it felt like we were viewing a private art collection at our own pace as we wound through some beautiful back hallways off the beaten Pfister track.  And we didn’t even have to change anyone’s diaper, feed anyone the peanut butter sandwich we usually have on us in case of emergency, or warn anyone not to touch those insanely gorgeous gilded frames.

Date night win.

I love how so many of the subjects in Victorian portraits had pale skin and red hair. My husband and I agreed I was born in the wrong era. (“Portrait” by Henri Rondel)


“The Rose” by Etienne Adolphe Piot is a piece you have to see in real life– the realistic detail is striking and the melty, hazy softness is so lovely.


The sweet candid moment the artist captured of his children made us miss our kids. Almost. (“Two Children” by Hugo Oehmichen)


(“Pikemen” by Maurice Dennvilliers)


(“The Dancer” by Georges Jules Victor Clairin)


My very favorite painting in the Pfister. I can imagine wearing a cloak of gleaming stars, can’t you? (“The Stars” by Edouard Bisson)


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