50 MIAD Est. 1974

About MIAD

The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design fosters innovative, entrepreneurial and disruptive thinking that benefits our students and our corporate and nonprofit partners. The college brings robust career pathways and college readiness experiences to underrepresented and low-income high school youth, educates future art and design leaders and provides cultural experiences and events to the Greater Milwaukee community. MIAD is an accredited, nonprofit college offering the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is the only private art and design college in Wisconsin.

Snapshots of MIAD History

View images from MIAD’s history, from senior exhibitions to construction of the Third Ward building!

1974 – Present

Our History

MIAD founded
Charlotte Partridge and Miriam Frink

MIAD is founded, born from the nationally acclaimed Layton School of Art (est. 1920) and the forward-thinking legacy of its founders, life partners Charlotte Partridge and Miriam Frink

MIAD opens Prospect Building
A group of students sits on scaffolding above the door of a MIAD building

MIAD opens in the Prospect Building, 207 N. Milwaukee St., directly across the street from the current Valentine Coffee Roasters, at the corner of Chicago & Milwaukee St. (until 1984)

MIAD moves to Plankinton Building
St. Paul St side of the Plankinton building, a cream brick building.

MIAD moves to the Plankinton Building, 342 N. Water St., at the corner of Water & St. Paul St., offering Graphic Design, Illustration, Fine Arts (Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture and Photography), Interior Design, Industrial Design

MIAD moves to Third Ward
An interior shot of of the MIAD Third Ward building

MIAD moves to its current Third Ward location at 273 E. Erie St.; Admissions gave hardhat tours during construction of the new building. Northwestern Mutual used a portion of the 4th floor for storage. The building also housed a sewing shop and small machine shop.

MIAD acquires Student Union
A group of people stand behind a student union bar smiling and celebrating.

MIAD acquires the building across the street as its Student Union

MIAD acquires Gas Light Building
Three people, one on a ladder, work in a building.

MIAD acquires the Gas Light Building (sold in 2005)

Eisner Museum opens
Two windows look out over a red brick building.

Eisner Museum opens and also houses MIAD’s residence hall on Chicago St. (sold in 2010)

MIAD logo created
MIAD 50: Celebrating 50 years of art & design education.

MIAD’s current logo is created by designers Chermayeff & Geismar.

Creative Fusion founded
MIAD exterior building with a Creative Fusion sign.

Creative Fusion is founded by Madeleine & David Lubar

Two50Two opens
  • Two50Two Student Apartments open across from the main academic building
  • MIAD celebrates 40th anniversary
Fine Art major launch
Abstract colorful painting with an orange-yellow background.

Fine Art + New Studio Practice – MIAD’s multidisciplinary fine arts major – launches

Enrollment increases
A group of graduating students celebrates in an auditorium

Enrollment increases 50%, reaching 920 students.

MIAD recognized for Graphic Design
Rockabilly Chili poster, Ella Wiater

Graphic Design USA first recognizes MIAD as top Graphic Design School

Equity & Inclusion
Equity and Inclusion Center

Equity & Inclusion Center opens.

Design Interns 2023
  • Year-long Design Internship Program for high-schoolers begins
  • Animation program launches in MIAD’s nationally recognized Illustration major
Present day
MIAD exterior
Exterior of Gallery at The Ave
  • The college completes its $10 million Our Creative Future campaign, fueling scholarship, program and facilities innovations, like the Lubar Centers for Innovation & Emerging Technology
  • Animation ranks top in the state; Illustration in the top ten in the Midwest; college is #1 Graphic Design School in Wisconsin (Animation Career Review)
  • Fashion and Apparel Design major launches
  • MIAD Gallery at The Ave opens
  • Enrollment holds strong at 877; first year-retention is 86%