The most exciting and challenging part of my job this semester is teaching the Satellite Program, a 30-year-old program meant to introduce high school students to Western art history. Not only do I have big shoes to fill (Chief Educator Barbara Brown Lee passed the Satellite torch to me this year), but I also have a couple of big questions to consider: How do I teach a solid, but fun, overview of art history using the Museum’s collection as our textbook? How can I incorporate new technology into the class to enhance our looking experience, and not distract from the artwork?
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.
Everyone knows what a library is. But did you know that most art museums have their own libraries? And they’re not just for Museum staff–they’re for anyone and everyone who is interested in looking at anything from an exhibition catalogue for the artist George Catlin from 1848, to a letter from Georgia O’Keeffe from 1972. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s library, tucked within the Saarinen building, is a treasure trove of anything and everything to do with our Collection.
In any museum gallery, you will encounter rare and valuable pieces of art. We value well-designed objects for many reasons, including for their materials and craft, their aesthetic design, and sometimes the people associated with them. This luxurious Tiffany & Co. Tea Service from 1905 is a rare object with incredible value in all three categories.
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.