Behind the Scenes Education

How Do They Do That?

Tools for the project and the 3/16" scale drawing.
Tools for the project and the 3/16" scale drawing.
Hi, I’m Kelli, one of the gallery and art preparators working behind the scenes here at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I’m one of the “they” who does what they “do”.

If you’ve been to the museum more than once, you’ve noticed that some of the galleries change from time to time. Sometimes we move paintings to a different spot in the room, other times we’ll move the walls into a different formation. This time, I’ve painted the walls and the carpet. That’s right–I said carpet.

Behind the Scenes Education

Meet Ayiana, Voice of our Family iPod Touch Tours!

Ayiana is hard at work recording the "A is for Art" tour. Photo by Sandy Goldberg.
Ayiana, hard at work recording the "A is for Art" tour. Photo by Sandy Goldberg.
Get ready: The Museum is launching its first iPod Touch Tour for families on March 12, 2011! It is currently in production. Here’s Ayiana Scott–she is 7 years old and one of our narrators for the A is for Art tour, designed especially for younger viewers. She’s the voice behind the tour.

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 Art News Events

What’s Happening at the Milwaukee Art Museum: Jan. 31-Feb. 6

Greetings Packers fans! For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with Museum news, the Museum has placed a friendly-but-serious wager on Super Bowl XLV, featuring your Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The wager: If the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh will loan its Renoir “Bathers with Crab” to the Milwaukee Art Museum. If the Steelers win, the Milwaukee Art Museum will loan its Caillebotte “Boating on the Yerres” to Carnegie for a few months. It’s French Impressionist v. French Impressionist for the Lombardi Trophy and bragging rights this Sunday, February 6.

But before that, come down to the Museum and see the Caillebotte in person! Thursday, Feb. 3 is Target Free First Thursday, and a great opportunity to head down to the lakefront.

Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Exhibitions

A quick trip to the Niedecken archives

George Mann Niedecken archival materials relating to designs for Milwaukee's Frederick Bogk House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

This afternoon I had to run a quick errand to the Museum’s George Mann Niedecken archives (formerly Prairie Archives) and decided to take a camera, and you blog readers, along for the trip.

As we prepare for the upcoming Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century exhibition, we are going through our own rich design holdings to see what we have that supplements the Wright drawings coming from the collection of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Behind the Scenes

Just Relax!

Sunrise over the lake with the Museum in the foreground

For the past two weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to be on vacation in London and New York City—and true to form, the vast majority of my time was spent in museums. The big ones (you know: the Met, MoMA, the Tate). The crammed-with-people ones. The ones that left me pining for just a spot to sit down in front of one of those famous works and not be elbowed by people.

Happily, when I came back to work and took a stroll through our galleries, I was not bombarded by bodies—instead, I had lots of space to wander. My trip helped me remember that sometimes a visitor just wants to relax in an art museum. In that spirit, here are my top 3 favorite spots in the Milwaukee Art Museum to rest and refresh before hitting the art again.

Art Membership

The Woodgatherer in my memory, and on a bag!

Jules Bastien-Lepage, Le Père Jacques (Woodgatherer), 1881. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Mrs. E. P. Allis and her daughters in memory of Edward Phelps Allis. Photo by John R. Glembin.

When I was a freshman in high school, I came to the Milwaukee Art Museum on a field trip with my art class. We were instructed to sit in front of Jules Bastien-Lepage’s The Woodgatherer (1881) and take as many notes as possible on what we saw and what it meant to us, so that we could later write a paper on it.

Art Curatorial

From the Collection—Bengtsson’s Slice Chair

Mathias Bengtsson (Danish, b. 1971) Slice Chair, 1999 Aluminum 29 1/2 x 35 x 29 in. (74.93 x 88.9 x 73.66 cm) Gift of Friends of Art M2011.11 Photo credit John R. Glembin © Mathias Bengtsson, Courtesy of Industry Gallery
Mathias Bengtsson (Danish, b. 1971), Slice Chair, 1999. Aluminum; 29 1/2 x 35 x 29 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art M2011.11. Photo credit John R. Glembin. © Mathias Bengtsson, Courtesy of Industry Gallery.

In honor of last week’s opening of European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century, I thought I’d share a bit about why the Museum has used this striking aluminum chair so heavily in the exhibition’s marketing.

You saw this chair’s curves on banners and the cover of the MAM Insider (the Museum’s Member magazine), all over the Museum’s exhibition website, and even on little details like admission vouchers.

As a lover of beautiful things, I’m drawn to the dazzling shimmer of the aluminum surface and the undulating form of this design.

As a curator who loves to talk about art, I’m also drawn to the ideas behind the chair. I feel like you could talk about this chair all day.


A Simple Thank You Goes A Mighty Long Way…

Lakefront Festival of the Arts 2010
Lakefront Festival of the Arts 2010

When I began my journey at the Milwaukee Art Museum as Membership Marketing Coordinator, my main goal was to come up with ways to solicit new Members and to keep all of our Members happy. Everyday someone presents me with an issue, question or comment that I do my best to assist with. Sometimes the answers are easy, others take some digging and investigating but before the conversation is over, the two words I strive to hear are Thank You! That is the validation needed to let me know that I’m doing my job to the best of my ability.

Behind the Scenes Museum Store

Art that You Wear

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.