Visitors will be able to walk into the jaw dropping box office and concessions lobbies straight out of 1927.

Conceived of by the Milwaukee architecture firm Dick & Bauer and constructed by Saxe Amusement Enterprises in 1927, the Oriental Theatre was designed to feel like a “temple of Oriental art,” with design elements borrowed from Indian, Moorish, Islamic, and Byzantine architectural styles. The theatre’s eccentric, East Indian-inspired aesthetic has 2,000 yards of lush textiles, faux teakwood ceiling timbers, intricate tile floors and pillars, onion-domed minarets, three 8-foot chandeliers, and eight porcelain lions don the staircase to the balcony. Countless mythological creatures can be found throughout the theatre as well as numerous hand-painted murals.

In the late 1980s, the theatre had two additional auditoriums built on either side of the main theater, beneath its balcony. In July 2018, Milwaukee Film—the local nonprofit that runs The Milwaukee Film Festival has taken over operations at the theatre. Milwaukee Film has recently made extensive, multi-million-dollar improvements to the theater, including restoring the ornate plaster work and lighting in the theatre’s main hall. By restoring one of the nation’s finest historical cinemas, Milwaukee Film hopes to secure a bright future for the theater, advance the local film industry, and become a permanent fixture in global cinema culture—all while continuing to screen great films and spark important conversations in the community.

Doors Open visitors can view the ornate lobbies filled with decorative plasterwork and chandeliers. They can walk the staircase leading to the balcony which is lined by imposing lion sculptures and features hand-painted scenic murals. When films are not in session, the newly restored theatre interiors are on view, with even more plasterwork, dozens of sculptures, and colorful accent lighting.

The lobbies and staircase are always open for viewing, but films begin at 12:00, 12:30, and 1:00 during the Doors Open weekend. The main theatre will be showing a film at 1:00pm, please arrive between 10 am to 12 pm if you wish to view the main theatre. 

2230 N Farwell Ave

Saturday Hours
10 am - 2 pm

Sunday Hours
10 am - 2 pm


Handicapped Accessible
1st floor only


Photo Tour