“It’s part of Milwaukee’s history:” Pabst Theater chandelier comes down for annual cleaning

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MILWAUKEE -- A beloved piece of Milwaukee history and centerpiece of the Pabst Theater has gotten a little sprucing up. The crystal chandelier was lowered for cleaning on Tuesday, May 10th.

Pabst Theater chandelier comes down for annual cleaningThe giant chandelier that hangs high above the auditorium is brought down to ground level only once a year for its annual cleaning and polishing.

"It's one of the gems that's been hidden for a long time," said volunteer Sandra Wicker.

The chandelier was manually lowered 68 feet to floor level Tuesday morning.

"It needs to be hand cranked by this big huge original metal hand crank machine," said Andy Nelson, PR director of PTG Live Events.

The crown jewel that was dropped to get cleaned and polished is enormous.

"The chandelier weighs 1.23 tons, so it weighs about the size of an elephant," said Nelson.

Pabst Theater chandelier comes down for annual cleaning

Lowering this massive treasure was a major task. But the hard part was delicately cleaning 33,000 crystals in a timely manner.

"We have to do it in two days. This theater was built in 1895. It's been around for a long time and it's affectionately called the 'Grand Ole Lady'. It's easy to say, in her entire life, she's never been this busy," said Nelson.

After being exposed during countless shows with special effects, cobwebs and dust collects.

"We have an environmentally-friendly cleaner that we use and soft cloth," said Wicker.

A group of volunteers and ushers meticulously sprayed and wiped each piece.

"It's quite an experience to be there cleaning each one of those crystals and see it come back to life," said Wicker.


Wicker has been helping for the past six years and said she loves bringing the sparkle back year after year.

"It's part of Milwaukee's history," said Wicker.

The original chandelier was removed during the 1928 restoration of the Pabst Theater and replaced with an inverted Tiffany-like dome light.  For the Pabst Theater's grand re-opening in 1976, the Austrian crystal chandelier was installed. Measuring 12 feet in diameter and 16 feet in height, the chandelier weighs 1.23 tons.