Questions of Provenance–Stories Behind the Names

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s current feature exhibition, Milwaukee Collects, includes more than 100 objects from nearly 50 private collections in the Greater Milwaukee area. It offers an opportunity to see treasures that are typically not on public view. At the same time, it reminds us that the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection is part of a long tradition of collecting in the community. This is the third in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.

Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (Dutch, 1824–1903), Low Tide at Zeeland, Scheveningen, ca. 1900. Oil on wood panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Samuel O. Buckner Collection M1919.28. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (Dutch, 1824–1903), Low Tide at Zeeland, Scheveningen, ca. 1900. Oil on wood panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Samuel O. Buckner Collection M1919.28. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

As we’ve explored in the past, in many ways the collection of any museum is the result of the interests of its donors. Here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, we have outstanding European decorative arts from the Renaissance and Baroque periods due to Richard and Erna Flagg. We can boast of one of the deepest collections of nineteenth century German art in the country because of the generosity of René von Schleinitz. And with the gift from Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley, we have a world-class collection of twentieth century art.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at a few of the local collectors of earlier generations that you probably don’t know. Their story is the story of Milwaukee.

And this is just the whirwind tour—some of these historical donors warrant a longer post in the future!

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May is Member Month

Here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, our hope is that Members feel like VIPs with us all year long. We simply can’t do the work that we do in presenting exhibitions, stewarding art, and offering educational and family programming without the many thousands of individuals and families that choose to support us with membership donations each year. That being said, we know that our Members use the Museum in so many different ways—about as many different ways as there are members. Some Members never miss a Preview Celebration, when the feature exhibition is unveiled exclusively to Members with lectures, live music and a reception. Other Members plan their social calendars around the dynamic monthly MAM After Dark event. Other Members never miss the opportunity to bring an out-of-town guest to Windhover Hall and the collection galleries. Some Members are even out-of-towners themselves, and support the Museum’s mission from afar. Because we want all our Members to feel appreciated, throughout the month of May we’re offering a variety of specials and discounts available to all levels of membership. Stop by, and let us show our thanks for all that your support has made possible!

Bring a guest—for FREE!

All levels of membership are invited to bring a free guest with them during their visits in May. Bring your favorite art-viewing buddy every day if you like! Museum is not responsible for aesthetic debates that may ensue.

Enjoy Deeper Discounts in the Museum Store and all three Café locations

Members receive 20% off all purchases in the Museum store on Thursdays throughout May. The Museum Store offers an ever-changing selection of unique art objects and books, jewelry, home goods and more. Stop by and see what’s new!

Café Calatrava, the East End Wine Bar and Windhover Coffee will all be offering 20% off food and beverage to Members (with Member card) all month long! All three locations offer delicious food, paired with the most beautiful vista in city of Milwaukee. Be sure to stop by and experience the culinary stylings of our new chef, Zak Groh!

Online shoppers, take note…

All Museum store purchases made online by Members in the month of May over $25 will receive free shipping. It’s a great excuse to splurge on a mom in your life (or on yourself)!


Member Tour: Mommies and Babies: Sunday, May 14, 1pm and 3pm

The Exclusive Member Tour Series continues!

Explore the universal themes of motherhood and young life in art. The 3 p.m. tour is designed specifically for families; bring your kids in strollers and babes in arms. RSVP to or 414-224-3284.

Member Lecture with Barbara Brown Lee: Treasures from Friends of Art

Tuesday, May 23, 11 am- noon. 

Join Barbara Brown Lee, chief educator emerita and fifty-four-year Museum veteran, for this exclusive Member lecture about some of your favorite works at the Museum. Barbara is famous for her behind-the-scenes stories about  the Museum, and will be sure to shed some sassy light on the history behind works of art including the Janitor and works by Andy Warhol and Cornelia Parker.

There are so many ways to experience your Museum this May. Check out the full scope of all the Member Month offerings, here.

We hope to see you here during Member Month!



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And All That Jazz!

What did socialites in Milwaukee read during the jazz age of the late 1920s?

Well, naturally, everyone was reading The Modern Milwaukeean!

The magazine circulated from September of 1928 through the spring of 1930 and billed itself as the key publication for keeping up with the latest technological trends and everything modern. It proposed modernity as a way of life, but what really set The Modern Milwaukeean apart was its modern graphic design.

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Meet Zak Groh, the Museum’s new Executive Chef!

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The Milwaukee Art Museum is excited to announce that Zak Groh has been appointed Executive Chef of its culinary program, including Café Calatrava and events. Groh comes to the Museum with sixteen years of professional experience in the hospitality and restaurant industries.

Groh, who is a Milwaukee native, most recently owned and operated Whisk Culinary, a boutique catering company servicing the aviation markets in Milwaukee and Chicago. He has managed James Beard Award–winning restaurants and taught culinary arts, bringing a well-rounded and unique perspective to his new role as Executive Chef.

Get to know Chef Zak Groh a little better through a recent Q&A session:

How many years have you been in the food and beverage industry?
I started working at our family’s frozen custard stand at age eleven. I worked there all through high school and have been in the industry ever since—professionally since age eighteen.

Has anything about the Museum (the art, architecture, location) inspired your forthcoming menus? 
It has, and will only continue to. I think food has to be fun, which I am reminded of when I see the Chihuly in Windhover Hall—the colors, shapes, and controlled chaos of the work remind me of a busy kitchen! When I see Cornelia Parker’s Edge of England, I think of panko, and then I think of spring, and asparagus, and a panko-crusted asparagus, maybe paired with a sumptuous confit of tuna, a punchy bright sauce . . . and so on!

What is your cooking philosophy? 
My philosophy is to cook seasonal and for the day. I am always looking to add a twist or something unique to a basic technique.

What is your favorite dish to cook for yourself or loved ones?
I love to cook with loved ones for a special meal and to use homegrown vegetables and herbs when possible. I especially love cooking with my daughters, Sloane (2) and Bridgette (3). We’ll snip chives, soft scramble some eggs, and finish with a drizzle of brown butter for a simple breakfast!

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with? 
I am a big fan of acidity; a splash of vinegar or a few riffs of a zest can really brighten and balance a component.

Where does a chef enjoy eating in Milwaukee on his day off? 
Milwaukee has so many good spots! A favorite is Le Reve. I also try to catch some of the offerings at the farmers market and will pop into the Public Market to grab a po’boy at St. Paul’s Fish Company.

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From the Collection–Character Steins

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). "Singing Pig" Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). “Singing Pig” Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

[Once a year, the Milwaukee Art Museum will rotate the German steins on view in the gallery of nineteenth century German art. The newest installation is a selection of character steins, so we’d like to highlight the change by re-posting this entry from 2015.]

Ready for some laughs? In this post, we’ll be looking at German steins meant to be amusing.

The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century meant that more goods could be produced quickly and more people could afford those goods. Developments in the technique for shaping ceramics meant that steins didn’t have to be a standard shape—they could be molded in all sorts of ways. And, in a never-ending quest for novelty, they were! Continue reading

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