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Art in the Assembly
Union Art Goes Beyond the Gallery

In 1926, Porter Butts was reviewing the plan for the Memorial Union and noticed something missing. Taking up a pencil, he crossed out a room marked "assembly" and replaced it with "art gallery." This would become the first art gallery at the Union and the second gallery in all of Madison. Butts believed in the value of art and did not want it "tucked-away."

"The Union, of its very nature, is a center of artistic as well as social experience." –Porter Butts, 1941

Since that first change, art has played a key role at the Union. Students on the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Art Committee manage every aspect of exhibitions in Wisconsin Union's three galleries, from artist selection and installation to art education and marketing. Each year, select works are purchased to add to the Wisconsin Union Art Collection, which has roughly 1,800 pieces, displayed throughout the two buildings in meeting rooms, hallways and offices.