Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Layton Art Collection: 1888-2013, Part 3

Hannah Baldwin (Canterbury, Connecticut, active 18th century), Bed Rug, 1741. Wool. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Purchase.
Hannah Baldwin (Canterbury, Connecticut, active 18th century), Bed Rug, 1741. Wool. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Purchase.
When we last left off, Charlotte Partridge was the curator of the Layton Art Gallery, which was located on the northeast corner of North Jefferson street and Mason street. In 1957 the Layton Art Collection joined the Milwaukee Art Institute in the new War Memorial building. Three figures are key to the Layton Art Collection during this third period: Edward Dwight, Tracy Atkinson and Frederick Vogel III.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

Milwaukee’s Greatest! … Circa 1892

William J. Anderson and Julius Bleyer. Milwaukee's great industries: a compilation of facts concerning Milwaukee's commercial and manufacturing enterprises, its trade and commerce, and the advantages it offers to manufacturers seeking desirable locations for new or established industries. Milwaukee: Association for the Advancement of Milwaukee, 1892. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library by Don M. Kaminsky (1941-2009).
William J. Anderson and Julius Bleyer. Milwaukee’s great industries: a compilation of facts concerning Milwaukee’s commercial and manufacturing enterprises, its trade and commerce, and the advantages it offers to manufacturers seeking desirable locations for new or established industries. Milwaukee: Association for the Advancement of Milwaukee, 1892. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library by Don M. Kaminsky (1941-2009).

Recently, I had the opportunity to open an interesting book in the Museum’s Library entitled Milwaukee’s Great Industries (1892). This 352-page tome features a history of Milwaukee, articles on its various industries, schools, churches, trades, a variety of advertisements, and a list of city facts entitled “Milwaukee in a Nutshell.”

Did you know that in 1892, Milwaukee produced $135 million in goods; had the biggest iron foundry in the world; or produced fully one-third of all the tin-ware used in the United States? And yes, Milwaukee officially had the largest brewery and tannery in the world!

Last but certainly not least–did you know that, in 1892, Milwaukee also had “one of the finest art galleries in the land, and several of the best private art collections in the world”?

You had me at “one of the finest in the land.”

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.