Categories
Art Library/Archives

A Museum’s History in Moving Image

Film still: View in to the Layton Art Gallery’s sculpture court, circa 1957. Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives.
Film still: View in to the Layton Art Gallery’s sculpture court, circa 1957. Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives.

One of my favorite film gems in the Museum’s audio-visual archive is rare film footage of the institution’s changing location and architecture. This film–soundless, in black and white, circa 1957–features the Layton Art Gallery, the Milwaukee Art Institute, and the Eero Saarinen-designed War Memorial and Milwaukee Art Center building, into which the museum moved officially in 1957.

While the 15-minute film is rather grainy and hazy, the images are nevertheless a stunning peek into the last days of the Layton Art Gallery and the Milwaukee Art Institute in the early 1950s before their demolition, and the subsequent rise of the War Memorial building and the (then) Milwaukee Art Center. Excerpts from this film will be featured in our upcoming 125th Anniversary Exhibition, but if you’d like a sneak peek, read on.

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
Art Library/Archives

From the Library: “Men Who Own Big Libraries”

Scrapbook of Mr. Charles Mortimer (1824-1911) Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives
The cover (a reused ledger book) of Mr. Charles Mortimer's scrapbook. Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives. Photo by the author.

“Men Who Own Big Libraries: Milwaukeeans Who Delight in Collecting All Manner and Kind of Books” (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 18, 1901).

A title not to be passed up, wouldn’t you say? Who are these men, you ask? I had to read the 1901 article and find out …

I found this article, that goes on to describes the book collections of several wealthy Milwaukee attorneys and local leaders, housed alongside a scrapbook in the Museum’s Institutional Archives. The scrapbook was compiled by a man mentioned in the “Men Who Own Big Libraries” article. This man was not exactly a wealthy Milwaukee industrial titan, he was more of an odd man out–a mechanic whose unique collection provides a special surprise for anyone interested in Milwaukee’s early art scene.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Library/Archives

Beautiful boxes often hold beautiful things…

Wood lantern slide box with brass pull and glass lantern slides, early 20th century. Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives.
Wood lantern slide box with brass pull and glass lantern slides, early 20th century. Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives.

I’ve always felt that beautiful boxes should hold beautiful things, and that is the case for one small, graceful box stored in the Audio Visual Library at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Made of a dark, lustrous wood and elegant enough to be exhibited on its own, the box immediately caught my eye when I first came upon it.  With a squeal of excitement, I gently pulled off the lid and inside was a small collection of lovely glass lantern slides.  The box and lantern slides spoke instantly of a century past when traveling slides shows were essential to a museum’s exhibition program.