Ruth DeYoung Kohler has become a living legend in Wisconsin over the past few decades as a result of her participation as patron, volunteer, administrator and moving force at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. Her visionary goals as director there since 1972 have raised that institution to an international level, enriching the entire state by its presence. A visit to the Kohler Arts Center brings one in contact with the some of the most stimulating art shown anywhere in the U.S. Its programs include performances, children's education, conservation of historic artist sites, championing "outsider" and visionary art around the globe, scholarly research and publications, and a unique "Arts/Industry" program associated with the internationally known Kohler Co.
Her contributions to arts on the state and national are myriad. Kohler served as Chairman and member of the Wisconsin Arts Board and member of the National Crafts Planning Board, she also served as Director and member of the Kohler Foundation, as well as on the Wisconsin American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and on a panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. She's received honorary doctorates from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, UW Oshkosh. and Lakeland College. She's also been a member of the Board of Curators of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and is a recipient of a Governors Award in Support of the Arts, the Visionary Award from the American Craft Museum in New York, and the Smith Medal from Smith College of Massachusetts for exceptional achievement in the Arts. She also serves on the Wisconsin Academy's Council as Vice President for the Arts and is a Fellow of the Academy.
Kohler has been a continuing force behind the scenes who cares about and improves Wisconsin’s regional art culture. There may be no one else in the state that has ever compiled a record of this magnitude.