Book donation drive through March 10

Donate books.

In conjunction with the exhibition The San Quentin Project, The Milwaukee Art Museum is collecting books for the incarcerated people in our community. The book drive continues through March 10, 2019, through the run of the exhibition The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor
and the Men of San Quentin State Prison.

Books most needed:

  • LGBTQ nonfiction and fiction
  • Dictionaries (English)
  • Almanacs
  • How-tos on drawing and art making
  • Books in Spanish for native speakers
  • African American, Latinx, and Native American history or nonfiction
  • Contemporary fiction (especially urban fiction, crime fiction, and thrillers)
  • Mythology and alternative spirituality
  • Recent editions of textbooks

Books should be free of markings, in new or used condition. Softcover books
are preferred, but we are able to distribute hardcover books to institutions
that allow them.

Books can be donated in Windhover Hall at collection points near the admissions desks at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Thank you for your contributions.

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Remembering Dr. Alfred Bader

Bader in Office

Photo of Dr. Alfred Bader by David Bader Photography

There is never a good time to write about the loss of a friend. And though I knew him for only a short time, Dr. Alfred Bader was a friend to us all in the Milwaukee Art Museum family. News of his passing, on December 23, brought a weighted pause to the celebrations this past holiday season. Articles in the Journal Sentinel and Business Journal cover the biography and accomplishments of Dr. Bader—chemist, businessman, and philanthropist—a man who helped build Milwaukee’s industry and enrich its culture. It is as an avid collector and supporter of art that Dr. Bader will forever be honored at the Museum. First becoming a Member in 1952, he was instrumental to the Museum and, specifically, its European art collection. More than half a century later, his legacy includes the thirty exquisite works he gifted to the Museum and the endowment of the position of Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator of European Art—a post currently held by Tanya Paul. Dr. Bader once said that his passion for collecting “began with stamps at 8, drawings at 10, paintings at 20, and rare chemicals at 30.” Our experiences of Baroque art are richer for his inveterate collecting.

Dr. Bader made his first gifts to the Museum in 1961. The European art galleries on level one feature Govaert Flinck’s Portrait of a Man and Portrait of a Woman (1648), a pair of pendant portraits that Dr. Bader and his first wife, Helen Daniels Bader, donated in 1963. The adjacent galleries include other gifts, from the 1960s and 1970s, such as Gaetano Cusati’s luscious Still Life with Fish (ca. 1710) and Antiveduto Gramatica’s quietly moving Saint Dorothy (n.d.). More recently, in 1991, Dr. Bader and his wife, Isabel, gave intriguing works such as Adriaen van Nieulandt the Younger’s Orpheus (n.d.), which once formed the lid of a clavichord or harpsichord—as revealed by the exhibition they guest curated in 1989. In the past few years, the Baders have donated an additional group of paintings, including, in 2018, a Rembrandt School painting of Saint Bartholomew (17th century) that used to hang next to Dr. Bader’s chair in his home.


Adriaen van Nieulandt, the Younger (Dutch, 1587–1658), Orpheus, n.d. Oil on panel. Gift of Isabel and Alfred Bader, M1991.371. Photo by Efraim Lev-er.

The exhibition The Detective’s Eye: Investigating the Old Masters (1989), which featured van Nieulandt the Younger’s Orpheus, was one of two that Dr. Bader helped organize here at the Museum. That project, along with the first exhibition he guest curated, The Bible Through Dutch Eyes (1976), is a testament to Dr. Bader’s natural curiosity, his willingness to tirelessly research a challenging painting, and his belief in the fundamental importance of scholarship and connoisseurship. In addition to acting as a guest curator on these projects, Dr. Bader was always a generous lender to Museum exhibitions, from major enterprises such as Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered (2009), to smaller projects such as The Bloemaert Legacy (2014) and From Rembrandt to Parmigianino (2016).

“When I first arrived at the Museum, in 2013,” shares Tanya Paul, “I was honored to be the first Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator of European Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Alfred was such a monumental figure in the field of Dutch art, and I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility in accepting the position. As my time in Milwaukee progressed, and I grew to know Alfred and Isabel better, they became like family to me, and welcomed me warmly into their home each time I came to visit. As a curator, I will miss his deep art historical knowledge, his ready opinions, and his bottomless curiosity about the art of the Dutch Republic. On a personal level, I will miss his insight, his humor, his gifts as a storyteller, and the kindness he always showed me. The community has suffered an inestimable loss with Alfred’s passing.”

Dr. Bader’s long involvement with the Museum is easily best remembered by Barbara Brown Lee, whose more than fifty-five years in the education department meant she often worked directly with him:

Dr. Bader was a name I’d heard bandied about when I first started at the Museum, in January of 1963. I later discovered that he gave wonderful lectures, and he, of course, loaned some of his works for display in the galleries. At that time, we didn’t have a lot of people that knew about the old masters he had in his collection, so Dr. Bader was our best resource. When he curated The Bible Through Dutch Eyes, in 1976, and The Detective’s Eye, in 1989, that’s when I had the chance to actually work with him, to finally get to know him. We worked around the clock, but we had so much fun, and I learned so much. I have very fond memories of working with him on those shows. Later, when he opened a gallery, he’d call me over there to see his newest finds and talked to me about them. He never tired of art history and the works. My life at the Museum through the years has only been enriched by listening to and learning from patrons like Dr. Bader.


Installation view of the exhibition The Detective’s Eye: Investigating the Old Masters (1989).

Dr. Bader clearly left an indelible impression on the Museum, its people, and the community. I know I speak for everyone at the Museum in wishing my heartfelt sympathies to his wife, Isabel, his children, David and Daniel, and his other loving relatives and dear friends.


Marcelle Polednik, PhD
Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director

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Modern Lamps in Midcentury America

Zahara Schatz, manufactured by Heifetz Manufacturing Company, Table Lamp, 1951. Aluminum, enameled brass. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift from the George R. Kravis II Collection. Photo courtesy of Wright.

Zahara Schatz and Heifetz Manufacturing Company, Table Lamp, 1951. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift from the George R. Kravis II Collection. Photo courtesy of Wright.

In 1950, the Museum of Modern Art and New York-based Heifetz Manufacturing Company announced a design competition for floor and table lamps, offering cash prizes and the tantalizing promise that Heifetz would put at least three-quarters of the winning designs into production. [1] Ultimately, eight table lamps and two floor lamps were chosen for manufacture from over 600 entries. [2] These lamps were exhibited at MoMA from March 27–June 3, 1951 (alongside drawings, diagrams, photographs of the designs), published in Arts & Architecture magazine, and offered for sale across the United States at numerous stores, including Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. in Chicago and Macy’s in New York and San Francisco. [3] Now, two of these lamps are on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum as part of Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America (Sept 28, 2018-Jan 6, 2019). Continue reading

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The House of Cards Project


UWM-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts students (left to right) Anna Emerson, Paul Manley, and Jessica Schubkegel installing the House of Cards spiral. Photo: Ray Chi.

In the early 1950s, designers Charles and Ray Eames painstakingly arranged penny cars, pencils, pills, and papers to photograph for their House of Cards construction set. They probably never imagined that decades later, thousands of children and adults in the Milwaukee region would meticulously decorate their own House of Cards, let alone that these cards would be installed together in a towering spiral at the Milwaukee Art Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America. Continue reading

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Remembering Joe Ketner

Joseph D. Ketner II, who was chief curator at the Museum from 2005 to 2008 (when David Gordon was the director), died earlier this month after a battle with cancer. Many of you may have seen the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Mary Louise Schumacher.

Joe_topThough I did not know Joe personally, he left an indelible imprint on this institution: he enriched our collection with works by Sol LeWitt, Nam June Paik, and Amy Sillman, among others, and brought to Milwaukee ambitious exhibitions on Bruce Nauman, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol.

Prior to his tenure at the Museum, Joe, a specialist in modern and contemporary art, was the Henry and Lois Foster Director at the Rose Art Museum, at Brandeis University, and director of the Washington University Gallery of Art, in St. Louis. For the past ten years, he was the Lois and Henry Foster Chair of Contemporary Art Theory and Practice at Emerson College, in Boston.

We are the institution we are because of the people who paved the way before us, and it is an honor to count Joe Ketner among the Museum’s distinguished leaders.

For those who wish to pay their respects, the family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Joseph D. Ketner II Memorial Fund to benefit Emerson Urban Arts.


Marcelle Polednik, PhD
Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director

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