For more than two years, the conservation team at the Milwaukee Art Museum has been collaborating with other experts to conserve Robert Gober’s Untitled installation so it can return to the galleries and again immerse viewers in an animated, watery scene, as the artist originally intended. When visitors peer inside the suitcase, they often think the watery tableau is created by a screen. The truth is much more exciting! What you see is a sculpted pool filled with gently lapping water, silicone seaweed, and wax limbs. But this installation, like all artwork, is not inert. Gober made the work in 1997, and over the course of 26 years, mechanical elements became worn and algae grew.
Spoiler alert: Visitors who come to the Museum for the exhibition Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 will find a Volvo in the galleries. Dedicated to the extensive cultural exchange between Scandinavia and the U.S. in the 20th century, the exhibition presents the Volvo and its innovative seatbelts as examples of design for social change.
Remembering Isabel Bader
We at the Milwaukee Art Museum were deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of Isabel Bader, a loss that is greatly felt within our Museum family. A longtime patron and friend of the Museum, Isabel was known for her remarkable passion and steadfast commitment to the arts, which had a profound impact on our institution and our community. For decades the Museum has benefited from the boundless generosity and invaluable support of Isabel, her late husband Dr. Alfred Bader, and the Bader Family’s charitable foundation, Bader Philanthropies, Inc.
True or false: the Museum’s collection galleries always stay the same?
The Milwaukee Art Museum is thrilled to announce our very own Marcelle Polednik, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director, has been honored with a Milwaukee Business Journal Women of Influence Award for her significant contributions to the arts and our community.
Periodically in the past, the blog has featured a series of posts called “Questions of Provenance,” which discussed issues related to provenance, or the history of ownership of a work of art. Over the next few months, this series will continue with posts highlighting recent research into works in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. In case you missed it, the first one was published in January.
The last story I shared was about an accidental discovery related to the provenance of the painting Dance Under the Linden Tree (1881) by Ludwig Knaus. Today, I’m going to share a similar surprise discovery, about Wedding Procession in the Tyrol by Wilhelm Ludwig Friedrich Riefstahl (German, 1827–1888).
The Milwaukee Art Museum is excited to introduce Spotlight Sessions, a virtual series featuring an artist or local luminary interpreting or responding to an artwork in the collection. This series captures the unique perspective an artist brings to either their own or another’s work of art, broadening the experience of a painting, sculpture, or other selected work. Over the next three years, six local and visiting artists will be featured in this series. Viewers will have a range of opportunities to learn about and engage with Spotlight Sessions, including on the website, through social media, and at in-person events.
The Museum’s collection of more than 32,000 works of art spans from antiquity to the present and includes gifts and purchases dating from 1888 to today. There are the favorites that everyone looks forward to seeing with each visit, yet works come in and out and are frequently moved about. They rest (in the vault), travel to other institutions, and enter new social circles in the galleries, striking up new conversations. Each work of art has a “life” that makes the collection itself dynamic—one with many stories to share.
The curatorial staff of the Milwaukee Art Museum are constantly researching the collection. Sometimes we request books and articles through interlibrary loan. Other times, we page through archival files either in person or online. And it’s not unusual to talk to colleagues in the field. But believe it or not, every once in a while, an important discovery is made by accident.
Samer Ghani, local artist, videographer, photographer, DearMKE Award winner, and “cultural documentarian,” captures stories as they emerge from Milwaukee events: from milestone moments like the Bucks’ victory parade to intimate rock concerts in neighborhood music venues. Ghani draws energy and inspiration for his artistic practice from Milwaukee’s unique spirit, landscape, and people.
Ghani’s love of art sparked more than 20 years ago, when he was a student in a Milwaukee Public Schools 4K art class at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Now, Ghani comes full circle by photographing the Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion to commemorate its 20th anniversary. The photograph appears on this year’s Member mug, offered to Members who support the Museum with an early renewal.
In a recent interview, Ghani discussed how his connection with the Museum has evolved over the decades.