Goethe Haus Milwaukee was registered with the state of Wisconsin on March 10, 1958. The founding committee included: Dr. J. Martin Klotsche, UW-Milwaukee; Richard Krug, Milwaukee Public Library; Edward O’Donnell, Marquette University; Henry Reuss, U.S. Congressman; Dr. Eric Waldmann, Marquette University; and Frank Zeidler, Milwaukee Mayor.

From 1960 to 1990, Goethe Haus Milwaukee was housed in the Milwaukee Public Library. From this location, the organization offered German classes, lectures on German architecture, art, and history and provided a lending library. The Goethe Haus Library was one of the best German libraries in the Middle West with more than 7,500 books, magazines and newspapers from Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, and Vienna available within 24 hours after publication. It housed a reading room, a music room, and an exhibit room.

Goethe Haus was founded as a German-American cultural institute in the Milwaukee Public Library. It’s purpose: to acquaint Americans with significant trends in the cultural life of Germany of the past and primarily the Germany of today.

In the year 2000, Goethe Haus Milwaukee became Goethe House Wisconsin. In 2001 Professor Umlaut joined Goethe House Wisconsin as the official mascot. In 2008, Goethe House Wisconsin found a new home on the Milwaukee School of Engineering campus in the Alumni Partnership Center. In the summer of 2017 Goethe House Wisconsin moved to its current home in the Technology Innovation Center.

Today Goethe House Wisconsin continues to serve the German-American community by offering professional German language classes, providing seminars for local German teachers, hosting lectures about various German topics, showing German films, and partnering with local organizations on a number of exciting cultural events.


Why Goethe House?

Because Goethe is not only the greatest German poet but also the personification of universal wisdom, knowledge, education, and humanity.


Dr. Ernst Edlhauser

We wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Ernst Edlhauser, the original Executive Director of Goethe House of Wisconsin, who passed away on December 5th, 2013, at the age of 88. He was born on February 1st, 1925 in Vienna, Austria. In 1957, he came to Milwaukee with his wife, the late June Edlhauser (Helgason).

Dr. Edlhauser served as the long-time director of Goethe House Wisconsin, from 1959 until 1995. Previously he had worked for the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and the Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations. He was the recipient of awards (Order of Merit, First Class) by both the Austrian and West German governments, recognizing his services for the advancement of German language and culture.

On January 24th, 1961 the Goethe House opened to the public, and for over three decades thousands of visitors met Dr. Edlhauser as the face of Goethe House. The Goethe House appreciates Dr. Edlhauser’s extensive contribution to the study of the German language and culture by Wisconsin students and adults.