Teen Voice: Victoria–The Museum’s Impact on Milwaukee

Victoria and her castle in the Kohl's Art Generation Gallery. Photo by Emerald Summers
Victoria and her castle in the Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery. Photo by Emerald Summers
The first time I saw the Milwaukee Art Museum I was in awe. The huge wings and the stark white building against the lake made the Museum seem like a weird foreign castle that I wanted to explore and get lost in. When I got inside, I was suddenly intimidated as I realized I couldn’t lay my grubby first grade fingers on anything! It was probably one of the biggest let downs in my first grade life I had ever encountered, but now, coming back as a senior in high school (and knowing about artwork conservation), I know it was for a good reason.

Four weeks ago I had no idea that I would be creating a post that would be viewed by anyone who accessed Milwaukee Art Museum Blog. When I first started the internship I was ecstatic: Working at the art museum? I was movin’ on up in life. Then when I found out I was going to create a blog post, you could pretty much say my day–if not year–was made.

So, as my blog group was getting ready to start writing, we interviewed people strolling the galleries. I was interested in what they had to say about the lovely Calatrava addition and what it brings to Milwaukee. But my first question to everybody was always “Is this your first time visiting the Museum?” Two people said yes, one said “No! I’ve been a member here for several years.” (She seemed quite astounded when I asked her; it was a scary moment for me.) Another two added they’d been here “countless times.” To those who hadn’t visited the museum before, led me to my next question, “What keeps you coming back for more?” And they all had their own fabulous personal reasons. “The spectacular views,” “for enhancement,” “the exterior,” “the impressionist pieces,” and “the beautiful location.”

Teen interns in Windhover Hall. Photo by Emerald Summers
Teen interns in Windhover Hall. Photo by Emerald Summers

When we finally came to around to what the Museum brings to Milwaukee, all five said the architecture right off the bat. I mean, we all saw that coming, so no surprises there. But the reasons interested me: Some said the building itself was a landmark and that would make Milwaukee recognizable. Others said it brought exposure to the exhibits, and one woman implied it brought the community together through the MAM After Dark, Lakefront Festival of the Arts and the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio. These statements were pretty much on point, since the mission statement of the art museum clearly states that its purpose is, “to collect and preserve art, presenting it to the community as a vital source of inspiration and education.”

Personally, one of the parts of the Museum I connected with was the 30 Americans exhibition. To be honest, I wasn’t too excited for it at first, but when I walked in and saw all the amazing pieces, my mind quickly changed. The art ranges from sculptures, installations, paintings and videos so if you don’t find something you don’t like, you’re basically lying.

Victoria in the Chair Park. Photo by Emerald Summers
Victoria in the Chair Park. Photo by Emerald Summers

My favorite piece out of the exhibit that I just have to tell you about, because it’s simply phenomenal is Duck, Duck, Noose by Gary Simmons. I gotta say, the exhibition designer really has it in for you: the way the layout is set up for this piece hits you hard. Duck, Duck, Noose is series of stools positioned in a circle with Ku Klux Klan hats on top and a long noose hanging in the middle of the piece. As you turn a wall, you’ll run into it; it takes your breath away and sends chills running all over your body. You start to ask yourself, if some of these issues that are talked about and exposed in 30 Americans are still going on today, has America really progressed?

Teen interns in the Chair Park. Photo by Emerald Summers
Teen interns in the Chair Park. Photo by Emerald Summers

I honestly love the Museum and what it brings to Wisconsin. Visiting the Museum inspires you in so many ways. It gets the community involved through all the programs and festivities, and it adds excitement and exposure to Milwaukee. What more could you ask for in a place?

Victoria is a Summer 2013 High School Intern at the Milwaukee Art Museum. This post was written as part of a blogging lesson led by Emerald Summers, Summer 2013 Teaching Assistant Intern for Teen Programs.

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