Edward Anthony Green, a prominent local historian, artist and architectural designer whose work helped shape the City of Milwaukee, has been unanimously selected by the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award selection committee as the 2012 recipient of the award, which honors the life and work of former Mayor Frank P. Zeidler.
The Milwaukee Common Council will honor Mr. Green on Tuesday, September 25 prior to the start of its regular meeting at 9 a.m. in the third floor Council Chamber at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. Media coverage is invited.
The committee chose Mr. Green, the former art director of the Milwaukee Public Museum who retired in 1984 after 33 years of service, primarily because of the lasting impact his volunteerism and vision have had on the City of Milwaukee. Projects in which he was the driving creative force or played a significant role include the Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit at MPM, the Henry W. Maier Festival Park and the airport’s Mitchell Gallery of Flight exhibit.
“Ed has had a hand in many of the gems that make this a great city in which to live today,” committee member and Alderman Robert Bauman said, “and his willingness to donate his time and expertise makes him a great example of civic-minded generosity.”
Colleagues credit Mr. Green with pioneering the diorama in what became known as “the Milwaukee style” of museum, where visitors can walk among culturally significant artifacts and architecture instead of staring at them through the dusty glass of locked exhibit cases. In the decades that followed the opening of Streets of Old Milwaukee in 1965, museums around the world would imitate and expand upon the idea, which now seems commonplace.
Throughout his career, Mr. Green served as a member of the Milwaukee Art Commission, now the Milwaukee Arts Board, and the Milwaukee Landmarks Commission, and he worked tirelessly to win the vote for the city’s lakefront Milwaukee Art Museum. Since his retirement, Mr. Green has remained active as an unpaid consultant for the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, the Great Lakes Naval Training Center Museum, the Coast Guard Museum in Connecticut, the Circus World Museum, the Allis Art Museum and many others.
Growing up on Milwaukee’s south side, graduating from South Division High School in 1940 and with no formal training, Mr. Green took on an architectural apprenticeship—until his first career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Mr. Green enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, and his service took him across the Atlantic Ocean 40 times and the Pacific Ocean 12 times. He remained active with the Coast Guard Auxiliary for 16 years.
In 1951, Mr. Green graduated with honors from the Milwaukee State Teachers College, a predecessor to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and began his career at MPM. In addition to the Streets of Old Milwaukee, he also oversaw the construction of other exhibits, including the European Village, the Japanese and Korean Houses, the Hopi Pueblo and the Guatemalan marketplace.
But Mr. Green’s legacy reaches far beyond the museum exhibits he curated. Following a trip to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, he approached then-Mayor Henry Maier with the idea of building a similar entertainment complex in downtown Milwaukee. The pair toured a number of sites before agreeing upon the lakefront location of the current Summerfest grounds, Maier Festival Park, and embarking on a years-long journey to make the vision a reality.
A number of Mr. Green’s other ideas shaped the cityscape as well, incorporated into city planning practices after he and five colleagues won a Ford grant for their proposed Northtown neighborhood redesign in 1962. He spearheaded efforts to design and build the airport’s Mitchell Gallery of Flight and the Milwaukee Beer Museum, taught at UW-Milwaukee and Cardinal Stritch University and served on boards at both.
In 1999, the UW-Milwaukee Alumni Association honored Mr. Green with its Special Life Achievement Award. He was only the fifth alumnus in school history to be so recognized.
Chaired by Milwaukee civil rights attorney Arthur Heitzer, the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award selection committee is composed of Alderman Bauman (vice chair), Milwaukee historian John Gurda, and community members Shelley Bruehling and Jack Murtaugh.
“You can hardly go anywhere in the City of Milwaukee without seeing a reminder of the impact that Ed Green has had in shaping it,” Mr. Heitzer said. “It’s only right that after an extended career of public service and volunteerism, and a long, fulfilling and inspiring life, he receives the recognition of this award. We also thought it appropriate to give this recognition to a veteran of World War II.”
The Frank P. Zeidler award acknowledges residents whose efforts most embody the values and vision of former Mayor Zeidler. Elected public officials are not eligible to receive the honor.
Frank Zeidler, the city’s last socialist mayor, died July 7, 2006 at age 93. He served as mayor from 1948 until 1960, and continued to be a voice for social justice and public service until his death.Dustin Weis — Public Relations Supervisor Public Information Division — Milwaukee City Clerk’s Office 200 E. Wells St. Room 301-K Milwaukee, WI 53202-3570 Phone: 414.286.3881 — Cell: 414.708.9151