the villa estate


Central Standard Craft Distillery has adopted Villa Terrace as its April nonprofit of the month. The distillery is serving a special cocktail all month long at 613 S. Second St. A portion of the price of each “Villa Terrace” sold benefits the museum.


28 Feb

Moving Images

February 28, 2019 – June 02, 2019
(Happening Now)

Moving Images preview image

Depicting the British royal family from the Victorian Age to the present, the ceremonial and family photographic portraits presented in Moving Images show how images can both reflect and energize major cultural shifts.

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25 Apr

Preparing to Paint with Artist-In-Residence Ariana Huggett / At Charles Allis Art Museum

April 25, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Painting workshop with the museums' artist-in-residence Ariana Huggett. This is one of a four-part series demonstrating the fundamentals of creating an "art studio on the go." This session is held at the Charles Allis Art Museum, our sister museum.

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5 May

Café Sopra Mare - UWM Violin Ensemble

May 05, 2019 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Music starts at 10:30 a.m. There will be a brief intermission. See performances the first Sunday of the month from October through May in the Villa Terrace’s great hall. Free with museum admission.

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8 May

Curatorial Walk Through - Moving Images

May 08, 2019 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Walk through the exhibition with a curator!

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11 May

High-Tea on the Terrace: A Royal Affair

May 11, 2019 | 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Featuring live music, assorted teas, tea sandwiches and scones, with a special Mother's Day talk and tour of our current exhibition Moving Images: Royal Portraiture and the Circulation of Ideas, with curator Lynn Harper.

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23 May

Color and Mixing a Palette with Artist-In-Residence Ariana Huggett

May 23, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Painting workshop with the museums' artist-in-residence Ariana Huggett. This is one of a four-part series demonstrating the fundamentals of creating an "art studio on the go."

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24 May

So Milwaukee

May 24, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Join us as we celebrate all things Milwaukee! Come and experience local music, food, specialty beers, artists-and-makers pop-up shop, and Milwaukee themed raffle.

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Explore Villa Terrace

Mercury Courtyard

The Mercury Courtyard is a charming cloister now dominated by the statue of Mercury, the mythical messenger of the gods. It’s surrounded by a vaulted loggia with Tuscan columns and grilled Italian windows.

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Great Hall

The Great Hall was the Smiths’ family room and was often used to entertain guests. The ceiling beams in the room are Georgia Pecky Cypress with white, blue and yellow stenciling.

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Dining Room

Like that of the Great Hall, the dining room's ceiling is made from beamed Georgia Pecky Cypress.

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The Queen Anne-style wood paneling in the library is walnut and was installed by the Matthew Brothers of Milwaukee.

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Colnik profile

Colnik Collection


The Cyril Colnik exhibition, located in the second-floor south-wing galleries, is a showcase of metal works made by Milwaukee ironsmith Cyril Colnik (1871–1958).

Iron and Deer Antlers
Iron and Deer Antlers
Iron and Deer Antlers


This sconce with three candleholders was constructed from a deer antler wrapped in iron.

Iron, deer antler 20 Inches high 1938

Master Piece

Pictured is the centerpiece of a large grille that was Cyril Colnik’s “Master Piece,” which demonstrated the mastery of metalworking techniques an apprentice was required to show to be named a master craftsman.

Iron 48 x 35 x 7.5 inches c. 1893

Dancing Dragon

This dynamic iron figure is dubbed the “Dancing Dragon.”

Iron 28 x 16 inches n.d.

Our Story

Lloyd and Agnes Smith

Lloyd Raymond Smith was born in 1883. He attended West Division High School in Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, before following his father into the family business — the A.O. Smith Corporation. Agnes Gram was born in 1893. Lloyd and Agnes married in 1915, two years after Lloyd had become president of A.O. Smith. It is said that Agnes wanted to build a unique house that reflected her love of architecture and design.

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David Adler

The Smiths hired the renowned architect and Milwaukee native David Adler (1883–1949) to build their dream home. The idea to build a home in the style of a sixteenth-century Northern Italian villa came on a trip to Italy after their marriage in 1915. Choosing between two Milwaukee sites, they settled on its present location, with Adler reportedly saying, “Let Lake Michigan be my Mediterranean.” Fittingly, the original name for the home was Sopra Mare (“above the sea” in Italian).

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Rose Standish Nichols

Rose Standish Nichols (1872–1960) was a landscape architect, writer, suffragist, and peace activist. She collaborated with Villa Terrace architect David Adler on the design of the Sopra Mare garden and its water stairway, which were probably adapted from the layout of the sixteenth-century Villa Cicogna-Mozzoni garden that she described in her book, Italian Pleasure Gardens, published in 1928.

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The Villa Today

Today Villa Terrace and its Renaissance Garden are zoned as Milwaukee County parkland. Together, they serve the citizens of Milwaukee through the creation and promotion of local, regional and international visual and decorative arts, and a wide range of intergenerational community arts programming that includes theater, music, arts and crafts, creative writing, poetry, and gardening.

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A.O. Smith Corp.

The story of the A.O. Smith Corporation is one of experimentation, research, and innovation. From humble beginnings as a small machine shop located in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, to its growth into a global corporation, A.O. Smith was one of the first to put significant resources into research and development, constantly seeking out new technologies and their practical application for new products and services.

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Host Your Event

From weddings that hearts remember to meetings that accomplish missions, Villa Terrace is the perfect place for your next event. The unparalleled beauty of a Mediterranean-style villa will surround your guests, as they appreciate tranquil views of Lake Michigan from the Terrazzo della Luna or stroll through the Renaissance Garden.

Rent Villa Terrace