Ruth DeYoung Kohler II’s forty years of visionary leadership led the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to international recognition. Her passion for artists and community created an all-encompassing art-centric venue in the eclectic marina city of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. JMKAC is hailed for its contemporary art exhibitions, outreach, performances, collaborative community programs, award-winning artist-designed washrooms, architectural and environmental aesthetics, and preschool. In 1974, Ruth pioneered the Arts/Industry residency program, offering artists the opportunity to create new work at the Pottery or Foundry inside the Kohler Co. factory. Nearly fifty years later, hundreds of artists have accessed Kohler Co.’s resources to create art in a first-of-its-kind and highly regarded industry collaboration.
Today, Ruth’s legacy and vision still drive JMKAC to champion artists of all genres. Her aspiration for an Art Preserve, a new concept in the presentation of a museum collection and the first art facility to be dedicated to artist-built environments, opened in 2021. Since then, thousands of visitors from around the world and hundreds of school groups have experienced Ruth’s vision for Sheboygan and the museum industry, in addition to her profound love and passion for artists and their legacies.