In our Play Date with Art program this month, we imagined what we’d be wearing in the future, and then we used found materials to bring our vision to life. You can do the same at home, using materials from around your house! Your designs can be anything you want. Think of future styles, or think of a special occasion you’d like to dress up for.
Having to stay inside can get dull—especially if it’s too cold, too windy, or too rainy to play outside. I find myself staring out my window quite a lot these days. It got me thinking: what could make my window more fun? How could I make my indoors more colorful while also sharing some fun with my neighbors, who may be looking out their windows? For our first at-home art activity, I drew inspiration from leaded stained glass windows!
*Within the disability community today, some may prefer identity-first language (e.g., “disabled person”), or person-first language (e.g., “person with a disability”). Because the curators do not know the preferences of the historical subjects in the “Functional Fashions” display, they chose to use identity-first language based on the recommendations of collaborators.
The mistaken belief that there is no history of clothing designs for disabled users has had a number of repercussions. Among them: nearly all designers treat their own iterations as inaugural, there has been a dearth of innovation as designs are continuously repeated, and disability-led innovation is written out of the historical record . Not only is there a long history of clothing designed by and for disabled persons, but in some cases it sets a higher standard than the efforts that followed. “Functional Fashions,” a display in the 20th- and 21st-Century Design Galleries at the Milwaukee Art Museum, introduces the largest collaborative clothing line for disabled persons in American history.
Clocks, calculators, measuring tapes, and scales—tools for measurement and calculation have long been important for people to accomplish tasks at work, school, and home. A new display in the 20th- and 21st-Century Design Galleries considers the role designers played in shaping such devices in the twentieth century, with examples from the 1920s-1980s. On one hand, these objects demonstrate how many designers aimed to make tools that are simple to use and easy to read, such as the streamlined kitchen clock and timer that Isamu Noguchi designed for Measured Time, Inc. in the early 1930s. At the same time, these designs bring to light how measurement and calculation have been closely linked to the human body in the twentieth century, as this post explores.
Though the practice of timekeeping extends back thousands of years, new strategies of labor management emerged in the early twentieth century that placed particular emphasis on keeping track of time and bodies in tandem. In the United States, labor theorists Frederick Taylor and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth introduced and popularized methods of scientific management. In particular, they used time and motion studies to first evaluate workers’ behavior, and then modify it for maximum efficiency.  The Gilbreths developed the chronocyclograph, which used small electric lights attached to workers’ bodies to produce images of tasks being accomplished over time. The idea was that through such studies, inefficient ways of working could be identified and replaced with standard practices that would increase productivity at work and at home. 
In the early 1950s, designers Charles and Ray Eames painstakingly arranged penny cars, pencils, pills, and papers to photograph for their House of Cards construction set. They probably never imagined that decades later, thousands of children and adults in the Milwaukee region would meticulously decorate their own House of Cards, let alone that these cards would be installed together in a towering spiral at the Milwaukee Art Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America.
Spring cleaning isn’t just for attics—the Museum’s Design Galleries were recently refreshed with a new coat of paint and numerous recent acquisitions. From turn-of-the-century silver to twenty-first-century furniture, these objects demonstrate the wide range of what we mean by “design” at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Among the many eye-catching objects in the exhibition Jaime Hayon: Technicolor, the delicate etching, dangling earrings, and dazzling glass surfaces of Afrikando are particularly alluring. This set of seven glass vessels is on view for the first time in the exhibition of work by Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon. Designed by Hayon expressly for the Milwaukee Art Museum’s permanent Collection, Afrikando fuses the tradition of glassblowing with the designer’s delightfully fresh contemporary sensibility.
On view now through March 25th in the Bradley Family Gallery, Jaime Hayon: Technicolor brightens up wintertime in Milwaukee with a colorful splash of fun and fantasy. The energetic exhibition features work from two decades of the Spanish artist-designer’s career, including textiles, ceramics, glass, drawings, and playground equipment. These works represent a wide range of approaches to making, thinking, and viewing, while also remaining unified by a refreshing sense of playful whimsy.
Jaime Hayon trained in his native Madrid and in Paris before directing the design department at Fabrica, the Benetton-funded design and communication academy in Italy, for nearly a decade. In 2003, he left Fabrica to focus on his own studio practice. Hayon Studio now has offices in Italy, Spain, and Japan and is acclaimed worldwide.
Though world-renowned (and Wisconsin-born) architect Frank Lloyd Wright is perhaps best remembered for his work in the Prairie Style, this portion of his career was only the first chapter of a much longer story. And so, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Wright’s birth, the Milwaukee Art Museum is pleased to commemorate multiple aspects of his career—both early and late.
The exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: Buildings for the Prairie, on-view in the Bradley Family Galleries through October 15, 2017, explores work from the first part of his career, while his later achievements are represented by the acquisition of a Usonian Exhibition House Dining Chair—one of only two such objects that are still extant. The Milwaukee Art Museum is fortunate to have added this rare object to our permanent collection through the support of the Demmer Charitable Trust, Jody Brindis Goisman & Dick Goisman, Dr. Charles Brindis & Debra L. Brindis, and Wayne & Kristine Lueders, who have supported this acquisition in memory of Evelyn Brindis Demmer.
This year marks a whopping 150 years since the birth of world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
As institutions across the United States host specials exhibitions and events to mark the occasion, the Milwaukee Art Museum has particular reason to celebrate: although Wright has come to represent Midwestern and American architecture at large, he was born and spent much of his life in our own beloved state of Wisconsin.
Wright’s first home was the small farming community of Richland Center, Wisconsin, where he was born in 1867. Wright also spent most of his childhood in Wisconsin (his family relocated briefly to Massachusetts when he was nine), and he attended both high school and college in Madison.
Wright left Wisconsin after college, jumpstarting his career as an apprentice for modern architect Louis Sullivan (American, 1856–1924) in Chicago, completing commissions throughout the United States, and even making an extended trip to Europe.