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Wisconsin Union: Sunsets & Community

Wisconsin Union: Sunsets & Community

Apr 10, 2024

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University of Wisconsin's Memorial union is a hub of student and faculty life - both social and academic. Most notably known for the Union’s terrace that houses the iconic Sunburst chairs. 
Did you know? The Wisconsin Union was the first college union to have its own art gallery!

A Little History
The Wisconsin Memorial Union was completed in 1928 and has since been a spot on campus where anyone can thrive and find a community. It serves as the center for many student-led organizations like the Wisconsin Union Theater and Wisconsin Union Directorate Art Committee. 

Prior to the building’s construction, the Wisconsin Union served as “the all-campus programming board” and was proposed by the then university president - Charles Van Hise. His belief that this union would enrich and encourage social and educational activities on campus started what has since become UW’s Division of Social Education.

Because of its beautiful park and view of the lake (and sunset!), the Wisconsin Union has also become a student fave and venue for summer concerts. Plus, it’s home to The Daily Scoop - a local shop that sells ice cream made right at the university! 

“The Union is a living room, which converts the university from a house of learning into a home of learning.”- Glenn Frank, UW-Madison President


The Union Terrace Chairs
The Memorial Union Terrace’s chairs were no accident. 
Back in 1929, the terrace’s chairs were made of wood that quickly decayed in the harsh weather. These were replaced with metal chairs in 1933. 
After a lot of trial and error throughout the 1960s, the Sunburst chairs were finally chosen for their rustproof and durable nature in 1981. Their iconic colors, “John Deere green and Allis Chalmers orange and yellow”, were chosen as an homage to Wisconsin farming roots and as a way to depict the changing seasons all year long. These chairs still grace the student body and faculty each year as a symbol of UW’s past and present. 

Shop the Wisconsin Collection