Art Behind the Scenes Museum Buildings

A Beautiful Friendship: The Museum Store Welcomes Milwaukee Artist Chrisanne Robertson

Chrisanne Robertson's illustration in the Museum Store. Photo by the author
Chrisanne Robertson's illustration in the Museum Store. Photo by the author.

This winter, the Art Museum Store has had the good fortune to forge a new and wonderful relationship with an exciting Milwaukee artist, Chrisanne Robertson.

Chrisanne worked closely with our Product Development lead, Julia Jackson (you can read my previous post about Julia’s work for the Museum here) to create a bright and cheerful keepsake ornament featuring Milwaukee’s lakefront.

Chrisanne applied her creative vision and talents with a watercolor paint brush and ink to a delightful design, which Julia then had reproduced onto a glass ornament.  The inside of the spherical ornaments are painstakingly painted by hand with a teeny-tiny brush inserted through the teeny-tiny hole at the top of the ornament.

Yes, really.

Art Behind the Scenes Museum Store

A Simple Translation from Museum Artwork to Museum Keepsake

The Museum Store has a dedicated staff person whose primary responsibility is “Product Development.”

Julia Jackson is the Museum Store’s creative brain-power and organizational manager behind items like the Roy Lichtenstein Crying Girl V-neck T-shirt shown at left (I get so many complements when I wear mine and it’s really soft, too!) and the Calatrava-inspired “Wings” earrings that I love.

Every time you pour coffee into your Edmund Tarbell’s Three Sisters mug or admire Bastien-LePage’s Woodgatherer on a poster on your wall, you can thank Julia!

Here is a simplified breakdown of Julia’s design and organization process:

Art Museum Store

Say it on a T-shirt: What does the Art Museum Mean to You?

Painterly T-shirt Contest Winner
Shirt with "painterly" view of the Milwaukee Art Museum submitted by T-shirt design contest winner McKenna Schoonover. Available at the Museum Store.

This spring, the Milwaukee Art Museum partnered with The A.V. Club Milwaukee to sponsor a design contest for a new line of T-shirts to be sold in the Museum Store.

The contest prompted the designers with the question “What does the Art Museum mean to you?”

Clearly, this question was a launching pad for a variety of interpretations.

Milwaukee’s creative community was inspired and the Museum received dozens of submissions which were voted on by friends “liking” the individual designs on The A.V. Club’s Facebook page. There were too many fantastic ideas to pick just one, so in the end I’m thrilled that the Art Museum has two fresh new designs to offer in the Museum Store!

Art Exhibitions

Visiting Wright Near Home

Frank Lloyd Wright, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc Administration Building, Racine, Wisconsin, 1936-39. Farrell Grehan/Arcaid Images.

In the interest of immersing myself in the Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century exhibition (and fulfilling my goal of becoming a tourist in my home state), I have been visiting Wright-designed buildings in Wisconsin over the past few months.

First I went to nearby Racine to tour Wright’s 1939 “Wingspread” House built for Herbert Fisk Johnson, Jr. and the 1936 administration building for the S. C. Johnson Company.  The Museum’s Chief Curator Brady Roberts pointed out to us on an exhibition tour that Santiago Calatrava visited the Johnson administration building seeking local inspiration when designing the Milwaukee Art Museum expansion—you can see a similar effect of the Johnson building’s cathedral-like glass ceiling interpreted in Windhover Hall.  I think that the building model on view in the Museum exhibition beautifully captures the effect of the sky-lighting in the “great workroom” at the Johnson Administration Building.  Of course, it was great to be able to verify this personally.

Behind the Scenes Museum Store

Thinking Globally, Shopping Artfully

Museum Store's Eco-Friendly Logo
Museum Store's Eco-Friendly Logo

In the Museum Store, we are always looking to highlight the artists and vendors that make commitments to ecologically and socially sustainable business practices.  Throughout the store, this logo (left) will tell you that a company uses recycled, repurposed, or sustainable materials and is conscientious about their shipping and packaging.  I recently gave a Cate & Levi repurposed wool hand puppet to a dear friend for her baby shower, and it was the perfect gift!  See how cute (below)!  And each is totally one-of-a-kind because of the material.


Student Work Enlivens the Art Museum

Members of UW-Milwaukee's "Object Group" at the Museum's MAM After Dark

Are you looking forward to the upcoming 2011 Scholastic Art Awards exhibition as much as I am? I enjoy viewing the diversity of amazing work by so many talented young people and I really love meeting the artists and their proud families and teachers when they come to see their work on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum (on view in our Schroeder Galleria Feb 5 – Mar 6, 2011).  It is such a thrill for those kids and it’s an exciting time of year for all the Museum staff, too.

Over the past year, the Museum Store has had the pleasure of developing our own special relationship with a local group of students–Object Group, UW-Milwaukee’s Jewelry and Metalsmithing Student Organization.  Check out their “Bespoke Objekt” blog here.

Events Exhibitions

Working the Fine Furnishings Show

Hans Gottsacker and Michael McCarthy in their booth at the Fine Furnishings Show in Milwaukee.

I recently had the opportunity to represent the Milwaukee Art Museum at the Fine Furnishings & Fine Craft Show held at The Garage at the Harley-Davidson Museum.  First of all—what a great venue!  If you haven’t yet been to the Harley-Davidson Museum, the cool industrial architecture is definitely worth checking out.  Also, the Show was a perfectly timed experience for me, with the European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century exhibition open at the same time at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Our exhibition explores notions of design as either primarily for function, or for a more conceptual idea. I was able to see more examples of how craft and design intersect at the Fine Furnishings Show. Apart from one prototype plastic chair, the objects there demonstrate a beautiful melding of function and handcrafted one-of-kind design.

Behind the Scenes Museum Store

Art that You Wear


Santiago Calatrava-designed cases in the Milwaukee Art Museum Store


I’ll admit truly: one of my favorite pastimes is helping people pick out jewelry.  I’ll watch a person walking casually along the outside rim of the cases Santiago Calatrava designed for the Museum Store, and then I’ll see the double-take and the excitement in their eyes as they hold that special item in their view.  

Events Exhibitions Museum Store

Quilt History in the Making

Bruce Seeds, Garden Quilt
Bruce Seeds, Garden Quilt (detail)

The thing I find particularly thrilling about the American Quilts Exhibition Store is that because quilts are such a living medium, a part of everyday lives, they often inspire very personal dialogues as visitors pass into the exhibition store. Every day we meet visitors who are eager to share their sewing stories—they admire the works in the exhibition in a profound way because of a shared experience with those artists. We learn about still-vibrant family traditions of sewing, memories of people’s mothers hand-stitching their clothing when they were children, the various techniques seamstresses develop over time, and the agony and the ecstasy of piecing those wee slippery scraps of fine fabric together.