Bisignano Art Gallery Exhibits Highlights Historic Millwork District

Oct 11, 2019

DUBUQUE, Iowa – University of Dubuque’s Bisignano Art Gallery will host a free reception for its latest exhibit, “WOOD,” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in the art gallery, Heritage Center, 2255 Bennett St. The exhibit highlights the history of Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District with a focus on the Farley & Loetscher Manufacturing Company.

Alan Garfield, director of the art gallery, said everyone who moves to Dubuque hears about the fur traders and early miners who called the city home. When Garfield’s family moved to Dubuque 20 years ago, what he didn’t learn about was the city’s warehouse district.

“It was empty. No shops, no restaurants, no people. In my New Yorker jargon, we’d call it ‘indefensible space’ and stay away from it. I just knew there was a story in those lanes lined with brick,” Garfield said.

He learned those stories when he met Carole Loetscher, Gary Olsen, and Dave Palmer.

“WOOD is a marvelous history show, and as such it tells the story of about 80 years of industry in Dubuque. Of course, there is so much more to tell, but not to start with Farley & Loetscher Manufacturing Company seemed wrong,” Garfield said.

Today, the revitalization of the Historic Millwork District has renewed those brick warehouses to create a bustling downtown with restaurants, boutiques, living quarters, markets, and more. Garfield said, “This is not the same city I moved into 20 years ago.”

The reception will take place in conjunction with Doo Wop Project, which will begin at 8 p.m. in John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center. For more information, please visit

The “WOOD” exhibit will continue through Friday, Nov. 1. Students in Garfield’s museum studies course designed the show and created a catalog about the Historic Millwork District that includes text by Loetscher and Palmer and pictures by Olsen.

Bisignano Art Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the academic year. The gallery is also open in conjunction with all major events in John and Alice Butler Hall. Accommodations can be made for weekend viewing by contacting Garfield at 563.589.3717.