Staff, volunteers clean up damage done to art museum during riot

Courtesy: Stephanie Fryer

MADISON, Wis. — No art was damaged at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art after rioters broke into the building Saturday night.

Rioters were only able to gain access to the museum store, where they smashed display shelves and cases. They also damaged merchandise and several windows facing State Street.


“As an arts organization, MMoCA values the importance of non-violent, self-expression, especially in the wake of injustice and oppression. The pain and suffering that led to the protests nationwide must not be overlooked or forgotten,” said museum spokeswoman Marni McEntee.

“Things can be replaced, but lives cannot. We mourn the loss of innocent black lives and pledge to work within the community toward a more equitable and just future for all.”

Museum staff worked with police to secure the building early Sunday morning. They also spent the day sweeping up debris and scrubbing graffiti from exterior walls.

Employees removed all artwork from lower-level galleries and the lobby on Sunday, as a precaution in case more riots erupt in the coming days. They are still trying to determine the cost of the property damage, McEntee said.


Madison became the latest city to see violence spread through its downtown as people met Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

The violence started after thousands of people gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol to attend a peaceful protest in honor of Floyd’s death. Madison police said around 150 people took part in the riots. Around 75 buildings on State Street were damaged or looted Saturday night, as well as other businesses on both sides of the city, according to the Madison Police Department.

Video of Floyd’s time in custody has angered people across the country. Violent protests also took place in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Philadelphia this weekend. The video shows a former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck. Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe.”

Chauvin has been arrested on third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. Three other officers with the Minneapolis Police Department were fired. They have not been charged as of Sunday morning.