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Madison Artist’s New Mural Celebrates Wisconsin Union Experiences

From gnomes in Der Rathskeller to Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, art has been an integral part of the Wisconsin Union’s Memorial Union since it opened in 1928. 

University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna and artist Emily Balsley recently furthered that tradition of immersive art at the Memorial Union with a new mural on a Memorial Union wall. The vibrant painting in the stairwell near Peet’s Coffee depicts some of the adventures the Wisconsin Union offers.   

The eye-catching mural includes a Terrace-inspired color scheme; bold, black outlines; and hidden Easter eggs.

A shining sun and a smiling Bucky hanging out with a kayaking Union member!

“It really is all Union and what the Union means,” Emily said. “There are even some nods to some of the other murals in the build and some of the history.”

Emily graduated in ’01 from UW-Madison with a degree in graphic design and never thought she would end up painting a mural of her own at the Memorial Union, a place she visited often as a student.

The mural-adorned stairwell will soon lead Wisconsin Union members and guests of the Union to a new, outdoor seating area.

“Hopefully this mural will be the welcome into that space,” Emily said.

Meghan Roberts, a former Union marketing strategist and interim creative services manager, would like to see the mural become the new “selfie wall” in the Union. She also hopes it helps people discover the new seating area in the spring and summer.

Emily’s mural is currently open to the public and is ready for viewing! Look look for these hidden moments in the mural:

  • A star for Madison being the capital of Wisconsin
  • A man holding up a “W” with his fingers
  • A bumble bee
  • The Statue of Liberty
  • A Rathskeller mug
  • A giant gnome
  • A grey dog
  • A Hoofer Sailing Club member

To learn more about the Wisconsin Union’s adventures and the buildings in which some of those adventures occur, visit union.wisc.edu

Author: Brooke Hollingsworth

Brooke is majoring in journalism and strategic communication with the hope of entering the corporate communications field after graduation. In her spare time, she likes to read, listen to music and hang out at the Terrace!

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