Categories
Library/Archives

Kid Tested, Mother Approved

Sugar Specs box, 1958 Brooks Stevens Archive, Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Brooks Stevens Family and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
Sugar Specs box, 1958
Brooks Stevens Archive, Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Brooks Stevens Family and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
For the last three years, a portion of my time has been devoted to digitizing a treasure trove of imagery found in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Brooks Stevens Archive.

Stevens, one of the best known industrial designers of the twentieth century, lived and worked right here in Milwaukee, his hometown. While you may not automatically recognize his name, you most certainly will recognize his work: the Oscar-Meyer Weinermobile, Harley Davidson Hydra-glide motorcycle, the Valkyrie coupe sedan, and the round mouth Holsum peanut butter jar–just to name a few! Companies of all sizes, audiences and design needs flocked to Stevens and his firm for over five decades.

Categories
Art Curatorial

How many curators does it take to create an exhibition?

Installation shot, MIAD's "Style, Innovation, & Vision" exhibition. Photo by the author.
Installation shot, MIAD's "Style, Innovation, & Vision: Six Perspectives of a Design Collection" exhibition. Photo by the author.

Don’t answer that. Most jokes beginning that way aren’t very nice to the subject. My answer, in this case, is: six.

This fall, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) Director of Galleries Mark Lawson asked six design-lovers to curate an exhibition in the college’s Brooks Stevens Gallery.

Style, Innovation, & Vision: Six Perspectives of a Design Collection (Oct 7, 2011 – March 1, 2012) shows the results of his experiment.

MIAD has a significant collection of industrial design objects–ranging wildly from a Betty Crocker mixer to wheelchairs to a Motorola Razr cell phone. In 2010 MIAD’s webmaster Dave O’Meara and MIAD alumnus Dave Hinkle created a new digital catalog of these objects and illustrations.

To celebrate and advertise the possibilities of this new resource, Mark Lawson used it at the center of an exhibition. He called in a variety of voices to help, and I was thrilled to be one of the six involved.

Categories
Art Curatorial Library/Archives

From the Brooks Stevens Archive: “Looka’ that slide, isn’t she a honey!”

elephant from MJS 1938
Design rendering by Brooks Stevens (American, 1911–1995) as pictured in The Milwaukee Journal, December 19, 1938.  Article included in the Brooks Stevens Archive, Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Brooks Stevens Family and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

One of my job responsibilities is to be the curatorial liaison with the Museum’s Brooks Stevens Archives, a repository of renderings, photographs, and ephemera from Milwaukee’s preeminent industrial designer.

Today I was searching for information on a custom Packard “woodie” wagon that Stevens designed in 1940 for the Stratton Family, and I turned up nothing useful to an inquiring researcher.

However,  turning lemons to lemonade, while thumbing through Stevens’ press clippings from the late 1930s, I found something unusual and fantastic to share on this blog!