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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

The Layton Art Collection—1888-2013, Part 1

Exhibition Title Wall. Photo by Claudia Mooney
Exhibition Title Wall. Photo by Claudia Mooney

As you may know from reading Chelsea Kelly’s last blog post, the Milwaukee Art Museum is celebrating its 125th anniversary–-commemorating the big year with three exhibitions. The Layton Art Collection: 1888-2013 is the Chipstone Foundation’s contribution to this great celebration.

The exhibition, open through the end of the year, is located in the Museum’s lower level. It tells the story of the Layton Art Collection, and is divided into three parts: Frederick Layton and the Layton Art Gallery, Charlotte Partridge and Modernism, and American Paintings and Decorative Arts. Each of the sections represents a distinct period in the Layton Art Collection. I will devote one blog post to each period, since each is rich with objects and interesting stories.

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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Mr. Layton’s Gallery–The Salon-Style Hang

View of Gallery 10. Photo by Chelsea Kelly
View of Gallery 10. Photo by Chelsea Kelly

If you’ve been in the European galleries in the last few weeks, you’ve probably noticed a dramatic transformation in Gallery 10!

The gallery has been reinstalled as part of the celebrations of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Layton Art Gallery, which laid the foundation for what would become the Milwaukee Art Museum.  We’ve decided to call it Mr. Layton’s Gallery, after Milwaukee philanthropist Frederick Layton, who started it all.

You’ll find some paintings that are familiar (and part of the original gift from Frederick Layton): Old Stagecoach by Eastman Johnson, Hark! The Lark! by Winslow Homer, and Homer and His Guide by William Bouguereau. Other visitor favorites are part of this installation, such as The Last of the Spartans by Gaetano Trentanove and Le Père Jacques (Woodgatherer) by Jules Bastien-Lepage.

But what might be a surprise that you have probably never seen many of the paintings because they are usually stored in our paintings vault.  The result is a luscious gallery with 52 paintings and two sculptures. In this post, we’ll look at the history behind salon hangs, and show how we decided to use it for Gallery 10.

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Behind the Scenes Education

People’s Choice: Your Top 25 Works of Art in the Collection

Henry Vianden, Landscape with Mountains and River, n.d. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Frederick Vogel III on behalf of the family of Louise Pfister Vogel and Fred Vogel, Jr. Photo credit John R. Glembin
Henry Vianden, Landscape with Mountains and River, n.d. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Frederick Vogel III on behalf of the family of Louise Pfister Vogel and Fred Vogel, Jr. Photo credit John R. Glembin

Happy birthday, Milwaukee Art Museum! You’re looking pretty good for 125, if we do say so ourselves. To celebrate the Museum’s anniversary, we’ve got a whole lot of stuff going on. From concurrent exhibitions to community days, your 125th is going to go down in style.

Beyond events, though, and (mostly) in seriousness, as part of the 125th Anniversary, I’m excited to share some of the detailed breakouts of the most popular works of art in the Collection! Some of you may remember voting for your favorite artworks in the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab.

Wondering what the people’s choice works were? Check out the breakdown below!

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Behind the Scenes Curatorial

What Does It Mean To “Curate”?

Pin board of a Milwauke Art Museum Curator. Photo by Mel Buchanan.
Pin board of a Milwauke Art Museum Curator. Photo by Mel Buchanan.

Although I try very hard not to bring work home with me, sometimes (okay, most of the time) I can’t help it. I just love museums, and so I often find myself thinking about them after 5 p.m.

Something I’ve been mulling over for a while is the use of the word “curate”, and how the phrase has become a buzzword around the world wide web. What does the word “curate” mean in popular language–and more importantly, what does it mean for museum professionals that this word is being re-appropriated?

It was because of the social media site Pinterest that I started thinking about how people who aren’t museum professionals or art historians use the word curate.

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Art Exhibitions

Visiting Wright Near Home

Frank Lloyd Wright, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc Administration Building, Racine, Wisconsin, 1936-39. Farrell Grehan/Arcaid Images.

In the interest of immersing myself in the Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century exhibition (and fulfilling my goal of becoming a tourist in my home state), I have been visiting Wright-designed buildings in Wisconsin over the past few months.

First I went to nearby Racine to tour Wright’s 1939 “Wingspread” House built for Herbert Fisk Johnson, Jr. and the 1936 administration building for the S. C. Johnson Company.  The Museum’s Chief Curator Brady Roberts pointed out to us on an exhibition tour that Santiago Calatrava visited the Johnson administration building seeking local inspiration when designing the Milwaukee Art Museum expansion—you can see a similar effect of the Johnson building’s cathedral-like glass ceiling interpreted in Windhover Hall.  I think that the building model on view in the Museum exhibition beautifully captures the effect of the sky-lighting in the “great workroom” at the Johnson Administration Building.  Of course, it was great to be able to verify this personally.