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Behind the Scenes Education

How Do They Do That?

Tools for the project and the 3/16" scale drawing.
Tools for the project and the 3/16" scale drawing.
Hi, I’m Kelli, one of the gallery and art preparators working behind the scenes here at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I’m one of the “they” who does what they “do”.

If you’ve been to the museum more than once, you’ve noticed that some of the galleries change from time to time. Sometimes we move paintings to a different spot in the room, other times we’ll move the walls into a different formation. This time, I’ve painted the walls and the carpet. That’s right–I said carpet.

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Behind the Scenes Education

Meet Ayiana, Voice of our Family iPod Touch Tours!

Ayiana is hard at work recording the "A is for Art" tour. Photo by Sandy Goldberg.
Ayiana, hard at work recording the "A is for Art" tour. Photo by Sandy Goldberg.
Get ready: The Museum is launching its first iPod Touch Tour for families on March 12, 2011! It is currently in production. Here’s Ayiana Scott–she is 7 years old and one of our narrators for the A is for Art tour, designed especially for younger viewers. She’s the voice behind the tour.

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Art Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

Museum Library – Used Book Sale, March 3-6!

Museum basement corridor lined up with books ready to sell!

It’s book sale time again! With its Used Book Sale, the Museum’s George Peckham Miller Art Research Library is thrilled to provide the community with the opportunity to purchase those materials that are either duplicative or outside of the library’s collecting area. And, of course, all the proceeds benefit the library’s book acquisition fund.

This is an exciting time of year for the library staff as it draws together two years (the last used book sale was in 2009) of cataloguing, organizing, and streamlining the library collection.

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Art Behind the Scenes Exhibitions

Wright Changes to the 20th-century Design Gallery

Milwaukee Art Museum 20th-Century Design gallery. Before changes (above) and after (below).

When you visit the Museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century exhibition, you’ll notice that in addition to a trove of architectural drawings from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the installation includes drawings and furniture from the Museum’s permanent collection.

In the “Commissioned Houses” section, alongside stunning drawings of Wright’s homes for specific clients, the Museum’s George Mann Niedecken Combination Daybed/Writing Desk/ Lamp sits grandly on a center pedestal. Designed for Wright’s Irving House in Illinois, the desk is reunited with an Irving House lamp on loan from a private collection. In the exhibition’s section on “Enlightened Workspaces” the Desk (on long term loan to the Museum) designed for the S. C. Johnson Company building in Racine is on view along side site plans, presentation renderings, and models.

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Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Education

Installation of the 2011 Scholastic Art Awards

Installation of the 2011 Scholastic Art Awards exhibition. Milwaukee Art Museum's Schroeder Galleria.

Every year the Museum is proud to celebrate the outstanding artistic talents of Wisconsin’s young artists. Since 1976, Wisconsin’s regional Scholastic Art Award competition culminates with an exhibition and awards ceremony at the Museum. Our team professionally tackles (in a short amount of time!) the thoughtful display of more than 325 pieces of student art—ranging from photographs to lamps, from charcoal drawings to silver jewelry.

This year, art preparator Kelli Busch organized the design and installation of the student artwork in the Museum’s Schroeder Galleria. The exhibition will be on view February 5–March 6, 2011.

Below are a few photographs of Kelli’s installation work in progress…

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Behind the Scenes

Snow Day

View of the Museum on the morning of Thursday, February 3, 2011
View of the Museum on the morning of Thursday, February 3, 2011
On Wednesday, February 2, the Museum joined more than a thousand other organizations, schools, and businesses and took a day off in observance of the powerful—and beautiful—art of snow. The sculpted drifts and chiseled voids captured the nation’s attention. How could one not take notice of the blizzard’s swirling dances and howling bass as the sky and the ground were painted with fluid and at times violent strokes? Many people took pictures, documenting this strange new coating of the landscape. Routines were disrupted, and we were forced to look anew at the buildings, streets, and passageways we often dismiss as we go about our day. We’re reminded of our mortality and our insignificance. We both fear and delight in the choreography of hundreds of millions of snowflakes.

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Behind the Scenes Museum Store

Thinking Globally, Shopping Artfully

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 above!  And each is totally one-of-a-kind because of the material.

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Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Exhibitions

A quick trip to the Niedecken archives

George Mann Niedecken archival materials relating to designs for Milwaukee's Frederick Bogk House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

This afternoon I had to run a quick errand to the Museum’s George Mann Niedecken archives (formerly Prairie Archives) and decided to take a camera, and you blog readers, along for the trip.

As we prepare for the upcoming Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century exhibition, we are going through our own rich design holdings to see what we have that supplements the Wright drawings coming from the collection of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Behind the Scenes

Just Relax!

Sunrise over the lake with the Museum in the foreground

For the past two weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to be on vacation in London and New York City—and true to form, the vast majority of my time was spent in museums. The big ones (you know: the Met, MoMA, the Tate). The crammed-with-people ones. The ones that left me pining for just a spot to sit down in front of one of those famous works and not be elbowed by people.

Happily, when I came back to work and took a stroll through our galleries, I was not bombarded by bodies—instead, I had lots of space to wander. My trip helped me remember that sometimes a visitor just wants to relax in an art museum. In that spirit, here are my top 3 favorite spots in the Milwaukee Art Museum to rest and refresh before hitting the art again.

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Behind the Scenes Museum Store

Art that You Wear

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.