Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

MAM Behind the Scenes: Heather Winter, Librarian/Archivist

Heather Winter, Milwaukee Art Museum Librarian/Archivist
Heather Winter, Milwaukee Art Museum Librarian/Archivist

Each day, hundreds of visitors enter the Milwaukee Art Museum to stare in awe at the incredible wealth of artworks within the museum’s collection. But what can too often go unrecognized is the equally awe-inspiring work of the many museum staff members, without whom the museum in its current state could not exist. “MAM Behind the Scenes” is a blog series written by Digital Learning intern Emma Fallone to showcase the wide range of positions that make up a museum, and to reveal just a few of of the many people whose work makes the Milwaukee Art Museum a source of inspiration and education. We begin with Heather Winter, Librarian and Archivist.

Can you give a brief description of your job, in thirty seconds or less?
A little bit of anything and everything. My responsibility is to take questions about the Museum’s collection and history, and then answer them with any number of materials from the library or the institutional archives. It’s my job to know where those materials are, and to use them to answer the questions quickly and accurately.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

Frank Lloyd Wright in Color

Film still: Constructing the dormitory at Taliesin, early 1930s. Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives.
Film still: Constructing the dormitory at Taliesin, early 1930s. Milwaukee Art Museum,
Institutional Archives.
The museum’s archives contain a small but delightful collection of film and videotapes, detailing all sorts of subjects–from small films produced by the museum for various projects and exhibitions over the course of its history, to an odd yet enchanting assortment of documentary and artist-related footage.

But of all the film gems in the archive, my top favorites are two films of very rare footage of the internationally celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright which spans the 1930s into the early 1940s.  Both films were donated to the museum from the personal collection of Joan Salzstein.  She was the granddaughter of Dankmar Adler, one of the renowned architectural duo Adler & Sullivan, who changed Chicago’s skyline at the turn of the 20th century.  Wright worked for and studied under Adler, and his granddaughter Joan became a regular visitor to Wright’s home and farm at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, for many years.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

125 Years and Counting

"When Democracy Builds". Milwaukee Art Institute Bulletin. November 1945. Vol. 18, No. 5, Page 1.
“When Democracy Builds”. Milwaukee Art Institute Bulletin. November 1945. Vol. 18, No. 5, Page 1.
We owe it to the awakening interest in art matters
and the democratic spirit of the society,
which is attempting to make the gallery
a valuable asset to every citizen and
to inculcate an appreciation of its offerings.

–Samuel O. Buckner, President, Milwaukee Art Institute. “Art Gallery Rapidly Growing in Popularity.” Free Press, Dec 23, 1913

In 2013, the Milwaukee Art Museum will celebrate its 125th anniversary. Since 1888, the Museum has featured over 3,600 exhibitions, acquired 30,000+ objects, and published hundreds of exhibition and Collection catalogues. The Museum has been instrumental in setting national standards for excellence in art education, and has also erected visionary architecture. An exciting 125 years indeed!

Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

The Heady Appeal of Soap Sculpture Competitions

Milwaukee Art Institute Bulletin. January 1, 1931. Vol. 4, No. 5, Page 9
Milwaukee Art Institute Bulletin. January 1, 1931. Vol. 4, No. 5, Page 9
While browsing the Museum’s 120+ year history and its more than 3,500 exhibitions, patterns reflecting shifts in cultural taste, local craft, and major world events, are apparent.

History also reveals patterns that sidestep the obvious cultural or historical narrative to stand on their own. One such pattern appears in the series of soap sculpture competitions held at the Museum (known then as the Milwaukee Art Institute) from 1927-1940. At least fifteen national and local soap-sculpture competitions and exhibitions were held over a tirteen-year period.

How did soap sculpting become such a popular part of local and national practice so quickly? The answer, it turns out, was no further away than my own grocery list.