Vel Phillips
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Free Day + Celebration: Vel Phillips’s 100th Birthday

February 18, 10:00 am5:00 pm

In-personFree to the Public

Join us for the first event in the Museum’s new Free Day + Celebration series featuring free admission and campus-wide themed activities! At this kick-off event, honor hometown hero Vel Phillips on her 100th birthday. Make art, tour the galleries, enjoy live music, and more—all while celebrating Vel Phillips’s legacy of social justice.

In partnership with the Vel Phillips Legacy Initiative, the Museum is excited to kick off the Year of Vel Phillips with this Free Day + Celebration in her honor.


Event Lineup

10 AM–5 PM Explore the Galleries | Discover art from antiquity to the present in the Museum’s collection and exhibition galleries. See Vel represented in the  exhibition On Site: Derrick Adams: Our Time Together, which features new activities and audio experiences that tell the story of Black voices in the Milwaukee community.

10 AM–4 PM Art Making | Ignite your creative side with special art projects in the Kohl’s Art Studio and with guest facilitators from BrushBox.

10 AM–4 PM Bingo | Embark on an adventure of discovery throughout the Museum. Complete the activity for a chance to win prizes including Museum membership and items from Black women–owned businesses.

10 AM–4 PM Community Engagement Fair | Meet Milwaukee leaders and connect with local organizations championing housing rights, law, and civic engagement.

10:30–11:30 AM Story Time in the Galleries | Read a picture book with Ashley Valentine of Rooted MKE in the exhibition On Site: Derrick Adams: Our Time Together.

11 AM–1 PM, 2:30–4:30 PM Live DJ | Groove to a live set in Windhover Hall with DJ LoLo.

11 AM–NOON, 3–4 PM Film Screening | Watch the hour-long PBS documentary Vel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams.

NOON–1 PM*, 3–4 PM Drop-In Tours | Discover works in the collection that highlight Milwaukee’s social justice heroes past and present.

NOON–3 PM Sound Healing | Take a moment to slow down and center yourself during this meditative experience with singing bowls led by Melissa Blue Muhammad.

1–2:30 PM Panel Conversation* | Reflect on Vel Phillips’s enduring legacy in a panel discussion hosted by Nakeysha Roberts Washington of Genre: Urban Arts.

3–4 PM Guest Tour* | Take a closer look at the exhibition On Site: Derrick Adams: Our Time Together with Clayborn Benson, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Public Historian-in-Residence at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

*ASL interpretation is provided.


Visiting for the first time? Please follow these Museum guidelines. 

-Be mindful of your fingers, elbows, rear, and gear. Keep an arm’s length away from the art.
-Store your backpacks, larger bags, and umbrellas in lockers on the Café Level and in the East End.
-Strollers are welcome in the galleries. Wagons must be stored in the coatroom on the Café Level.
-Take photos, unless otherwise noted; flash, tripods, and commercial photography are not permitted.
-Enjoy food and drink in the Museum Café, not in the galleries. Water bottles must be stored in a locker.


Image: Sept. 6, 1967; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Vel Phillips, center, wearing NAACP youth council sweatshirt, joined youth council member in a song at a rally at St. Boniface Catholic Church © Journal Sentinel – USA TODAY NETWORK

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Location: 700 N. Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202