Art Curatorial

Join Me on a Visit to the MFA’s “Art of the Americas” Wing

Boston MFA Americas Wing

Last week I visited The Art of the Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and I was delighted by what I saw.  I traveled with several Milwaukee colleagues as we prepare for upcoming installation projects at the Museum. I was delighted to visit old “friends” in Boston’s rich American collection, I was thrilled to experience Norman Foster’s cool and elegant architecture, and I was grateful that several MFA curators took time to discuss the project in detail.

Acclaimed by everyone as a smashing success since its opening in November 2010, the Boston MFA’s $504 million, 121,307 square foot addition reorganizes the American art collection into 53 varied galleries. I found it an academic and sensual pleasure.

I was in the building for almost 12 hours, and I snapped almost 400 digital pictures. Here are a few that share what I saw and some notes on how these things might affect installation here in Milwaukee:

Art Behind the Scenes Exhibitions

Wright Changes to the 20th-century Design Gallery

Milwaukee Art Museum 20th-Century Design gallery. Before changes (above) and after (below).

When you visit the Museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century exhibition, you’ll notice that in addition to a trove of architectural drawings from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the installation includes drawings and furniture from the Museum’s permanent collection.

In the “Commissioned Houses” section, alongside stunning drawings of Wright’s homes for specific clients, the Museum’s George Mann Niedecken Combination Daybed/Writing Desk/ Lamp sits grandly on a center pedestal. Designed for Wright’s Irving House in Illinois, the desk is reunited with an Irving House lamp on loan from a private collection. In the exhibition’s section on “Enlightened Workspaces” the Desk (on long term loan to the Museum) designed for the S. C. Johnson Company building in Racine is on view along side site plans, presentation renderings, and models.

Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Education

Installation of the 2011 Scholastic Art Awards

Installation of the 2011 Scholastic Art Awards exhibition. Milwaukee Art Museum's Schroeder Galleria.

Every year the Museum is proud to celebrate the outstanding artistic talents of Wisconsin’s young artists. Since 1976, Wisconsin’s regional Scholastic Art Award competition culminates with an exhibition and awards ceremony at the Museum. Our team professionally tackles (in a short amount of time!) the thoughtful display of more than 325 pieces of student art—ranging from photographs to lamps, from charcoal drawings to silver jewelry.

This year, art preparator Kelli Busch organized the design and installation of the student artwork in the Museum’s Schroeder Galleria. The exhibition will be on view February 5–March 6, 2011.

Below are a few photographs of Kelli’s installation work in progress…

Art Curatorial Education

Listening to the Decorative Arts

Round Room video gallery, Milwaukee Art Museum's Lower Level Chipstone gallery.

As of late we at Chipstone have found ourselves discussing how the different senses affect our perception of decorative arts objects. For example, have you ever been asked to describe an object while blindfolded?

At our summer session for college undergrads, titled Object Lab, the students are required to do just that. It is amazing how “seeing” an object with our hands instead of our eyes, makes us drop the art historical jargon and really get into the essence of a piece. Although our conversation at Chipstone has centered around touch and how touching a piece of furniture or a ceramic object helps the viewer understand the object better than if he or she were just relying on sight, I’d like to explore how sound can add to an object’s experience and understanding.

Art Events Exhibitions

What’s Happening at the Museum: Nov. 15-21

Well, it’s here. The first-ever Art of the Table event at the Museum starts Thursday, November 18. The family-friendly event features 22 art-inspired tabletop designs by area designers, including local artists and national retailers, who were given a
10 x 10 foot space within the galleries to create their nontraditional installations.

The event was inspired by the On Site installation in the Museum by Robert Therrien, called Under the Table. This larger-than-life dining room table is perched in the heart of Windhover Hall and is quite a sight to see.