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.

Behind the Scenes

Just Relax!

Sunrise over the Museum on an early morning walk to work.
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.

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.  

Behind the Scenes Curatorial

Layers of Exhibition Paint

Between each exhibition in the Museum’s Baker/Rowland Galleries, the walls are entirely rearranged. This past weekend, I watched (bringing donuts, getting in the way, occasionally being helpful) as the installation crew moved walls and started spackling and painting in preparation for European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century.

As the team moved large 12 foot x 10 foot x 2 foot wall sections from their American Quilts exhibition layout into the new European Design arrangement, I was surprised at what was revealed behind—layers and layers of paint that colorfully represents our exhibition history.