Agreement to be signed to create partnership between War Memorial, Art Museum

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A deal becomes official Tuesday, September 17th, when county leaders are expected to sign a new agreement making the Milwaukee County War Memorial and the Milwaukee Art Museum partners.

Ron Dolinsky served the country during the Korean War.

"I was on the U.S.S. Columbus. It was a sailing ship -- going all the time," Dolinsky said.

Service to the country gave Dolinsky his wife -- a volunteer for the USO, and nearly took his brother.

"He went down on the West Virginia December 7th, 1941," Dolinsky said.

Dolinsky comes to the Milwaukee County War Memorial weekly for veterans programs and to remember.

"You represent your country and it's nice to have a memorial just like you'd have in a cemetery," Dolinsky said.

The Milwaukee County Board says the building needs repairs, and voted unanimously to give nearly $1.6 million per year for the next 10 years to the memorial and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

"We're making an investment and I think the people of Milwaukee are really going to see a great return on that," Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said.

Dimitrijevic says the funding means maintenance for both landmarks.

"We literally had some paintings that were even in danger because of the HVAC system -- in danger of being dripped on," Dimitrijevic said.

It also combines the War Memorial and Art Museum together as partners.

County Executive Chris Abele says he has reservations about such a big financial commitment. He said he would veto the resolution, but instead, returned it unsigned.

Abele says in part, "We don't know what the future holds for our budget needs, but this guarantees $16 million we can't use for services like transit, parks and mental health," Abele said.

Dolinsky is one man who thinks the investment is worth it.

"It's very important to us veterans," Dolinsky said.

The agreement will be signed Tuesday morning at the War Memorial.

New changes for both buildings include a shared memorial garden, new lighting for the Lincoln statue and a new atrium and entrance at the Art Museum.

County supervisors hope the deal will allow the Art Museum to bring in new art exhibits and help both facilities raise more money through donations.