Milwaukee metalworker Cyril Colnik

Installation view of Colnik Collection, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Milwaukee is home to a major collection of work by Cyril Colnik, an Austrian-born artist who worked in Milwaukee from 1893 until his death in 1958. Colnik is best known for the intricate wrought iron gates and architectural ornaments he made to decorate the mansions of Milwaukee’s elite, but he also made smaller household goods, like candlesticks and doorknobs, in cast and wrought iron and cast brass. Last week I worked with Villa Terrace curator Laurel Turner to photograph several dozen examples of Colnik’s work, including his wrought iron “Masterpiece,” which won a blue ribbon at the 1893 World’s Columbian exposition (detail below).
Cyril Colnik, Masterpiece, 1893 (Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum)

Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.

4 responses to “Milwaukee metalworker Cyril Colnik

  1. I’ve been fascinated by the piece called Colnik’s masterpiece since I first saw a grainy photo if it years ago. The close up the detail is the clearest I’ve ever been able to see the work. I would love to see a good high-resolution photo of the entire piece .

  2. Pingback: Revisiting the Charles Allis & Villa Terrace Museums « Wisconsin Object

  3. Hello, I am the curator of the John and Mable Ringling Museum historic mansion in Sarasota Florida. I recently read that Colnik had created many wrought iron works for John Ringling’s home. Do you have anything that wuld tell me which pieces or the dates he worked here. I would think that he would have created the beautiful iron staircase for Charles Ringling. Charles hired Clas Shaperd and Clas, architects form Milwakee to design his home where John had Dwight James Baum of NYC to design his. Please let me know who I can talk to. 941-359-5700 ext 1703 Thank you

  4. Hello Ron,

    Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I don’t know anything about Colnik’s work with the Ringlings but I have passed your message on to the curator at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum (, who might be able to help. Good luck in your search!


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