In 1929, young Bernard O. Gruenke received a scholarship from Ms. Marie Kohler of the Kohler Bath Fixture Company to attend the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. After completing his education, he joined and later purchased Conrad Schmitt Studios, and went on to provide murals, stained glass, and decorating for hundreds of churches, theatres and public buildings throughout the United States.
With the passing of Bernard in March of 2012, the following generations of the Gruenke family continue his commitment to giving back. The Gruenke Foundation for the Arts is a non-profit organization established in 1991 for the “betterment of the community through the promotion of art.” The Foundation serves to nurture artists and support the creative spirit just as Bernard O. Gruenke was supported by Ms. Kohler so many decades ago.
Current Foundation initiatives include education for artists of all ages, including youth workshops, professional internships, and advanced training for practicing artisans. The Foundation is also committed to supporting emerging artists and community art programming, providing donations of time and materials to local artists, performance groups, museums, and galleries.
The Gruenke Foundation for the Arts is home to several significant collections of artwork, including original sketches, oil paintings, sculpture, and stained glass. Part of the ongoing mission of the Foundation is the proper care and conservation of these artworks, as well as the exhibition of the collection for the benefit of the community.