From the Library and the Archives

Everyone knows what a library is. But did you know that most art museums have their own libraries? And they’re not just for Museum staff–they’re for anyone and everyone who is interested in looking at anything from an exhibition catalogue for the artist George Catlin from 1848, to a letter from Georgia O’Keeffe from 1972. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s library, tucked within the Saarinen building, is a treasure trove of anything and everything to do with our Collection.

I’ll post about the many surprising finds we stumble across here in the department, but thought it would be good to give an overview of how the Library/Archives are structured. Established in 1916, the George Peckham Miller Art Research Library houses an extensive collection of materials on fine art and architecture including painting, graphic arts, sculpture, drawing, design, and photography. Located on the West Mezzanine Level of the Museum, the Library contains a collection of over 20,000 volumes and subscribes to more than 70 art and design publications. To support research of the Museum’s art collection, the library also includes numerous museum and gallery publications, artist files and auction sales catalogues, as well as an exceptional collection of rare books.

The Institutional Archive collects materials related to the history and activities of the Milwaukee Art Museum. So what can these resources tell us? Let’s just say that, with 100+ years of groundbreaking exhibitions, lectures, and educational activities, the Museum has much to share. Do you know who in the Museum’s history had a personal connection with Orson Welles? Or which Milwaukeean Andrew Wyeth wrote a note to, as well as painted a picture for? How about what other locations were considered for the Milwaukee Art Museum in the 1950s (then the Milwaukee Art Institute)? So little time… so much to talk about!

The library is open to patrons and the general public from September–May on Tuesday, 2–4 p.m. and Wednesday, 2–4 p.m., or by appointment. From June–August, the library is open by appointment only. The archives are open by appointment only.

Heather Winter manages and oversees the Museum’s George Peckham Miller Art Research Library, the institutional archives and the rare books collection.
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