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Elvehjem Construction 2022–2024

The Elvehjem building with yellow construction tape in front.

Construction fencing is erected around the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building exterior at the University of Wisconsin–Madison at dusk on March 14, 2022. On March 15, access to Elvehjem Building entrances will be restricted and people will need to enter via the Chazen Building (750 University Avenue) and use the third-floor bridge to access Elvehjem spaces. All entrances to the Elvehjem Building will be cordoned off and available for emergency exit only after an engineering analysis conducted as part of a project to evaluate and repair the exterior envelopes of several campus buildings identified issues with the Elvehjem Building’s stone cladding exterior. Repairs will begin in summer 2022. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW–Madison)


Visitors to the Chazen Museum of Art may have noticed more than the usual movement of artwork recently, as staff prepare for long-planned work on the Elvehjem building’s exterior or envelope. Contractors will replace the 52-year-old building’s stone cladding and skylights during the next two years, providing a more-stable climate in the Elvehjem galleries.

Offices, classrooms and the Kohler Art Library will remain open. The Elvehjem galleries will close Dec. 23, 2022, for the duration of the construction project, which is projected to last approximately two years.

The exterior stone cladding will be removed, then an air barrier and additional insulation will be added to the existing wall system, providing improved climate stability in the galleries, and improved overall energy efficiency. The stone cladding and its anchor system will then be replaced.

Additionally, the aged skylights in the Elvehjem building will be replaced with a new improved system.

In preparation for the renovation, staff have begun moving a selection of artwork from the Elvehjem galleries to the Chazen building so that faculty can continue to teach with artworks integral to their classes. Study rooms will remain open by appointment during the renovation.

“Since we know how integral the artworks on view in our Elvehjem galleries are to faculty and visitors alike, we will be moving as many works as possible into the Chazen building but will ultimately need to store some artwork for the span of the renovation,” says Chief Curator Katherine Alcauskas.

Following the construction, the museum will begin a long-planned permanent-collection reinstallation that was derailed by the Covid pandemic. The Elvehjem galleries will reopen with a new thematic program and different artworks, including both old favorites and new works never before seen.