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Former Appleton art museum chief to serve as institution's first president

The Pabst Mansion, the restored Gilded Age home of the man for whom the Pabst Brewing Co. was named, is beefing up its leadership to help grow the museum and undertake a more aggressive outreach to its neighborhood and its home city.

The mansion, a major city tourist attraction at 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., has named Pamela Williams-Lime, lately president of the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton, as its first president. She’ll start August 1. John Eastberg, who has been at the museum for 25 years, the past three as executive director, will continue in that role.

Adam Christian, president of the Pabst Mansion board, said the board began to entertain the notion of adding a president at the beginning of this year. Williams-Lime will take responsibility for the museum’s operations, concentrating on strategic planning, financial management, community programs and member engagement, while Eastberg concentrates on the challenges of continuing restoration of the 1892 property, acquiring furnishings and maintaining its extensive archives. One particular challenge: the $8 million-plus restoration of the pavilion on the mansion’s east end – originally built as the Pabst Brewing Co.’s pavilion at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago and later hauled to Milwaukee and eventually attached to the mansion. The mansion served for 67 years as the home of Milwaukee’s Catholic archbishops, after the death of Frederick Pabst in 1904; the pavilion was a chapel in those years. 

A release from the organization says that Williams-Lime grew the number of members served each year at the Trout Museum from 25,000 to 100,000 in the six years she was there, and it quotes her as saying she sees similar potential for growth here.

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“I see the increased impact that the Pabst Mansion can have on Milwaukee,” said Williams-Lime. “Milwaukee is growing, vibrant, and investing in its urban landscape. I look forward to building new relationships between the Pabst Mansion and the community.”

According to a Pabst Mansion blog, Williams-Lime and her husband have been members of the museum for several years, starting when she visited with a group tour. In 2015, she began talks with Eastberg on a collaboration with the Trout Museum, centered on member engagement. The two institutions have had a relationship since then.

The Pabst Mansion welcomes more than 35,000 visitors a year and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The mansion was saved from demolition in 1975, after it was acquired from the Archdiocese. The organization that now runs it acquired it from interim ownership in 1978, making this year the 40th anniversary of its use as a museum. It has been restored, room by room, over those 40 years. Besides the pavilion, there’s one suite of rooms still requiring substantial restoration, Eastberg says — those of the Pabsts’ granddaughter Elsbeth.

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