Tired of winter yet? Wait, it’s February in Wisconsin–that’s probably a silly question. Even if you’ve had enough, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s current display of works on paper from the Collection, Winter in Color, might make you take another look at the season.
The first time I saw the Milwaukee Art Museum I was in awe. The huge wings and the stark white building against the lake made the Museum seem like a weird foreign castle that I wanted to explore and get lost in. When I got inside, I was suddenly intimidated as I realized I couldn’t lay my grubby first grade fingers on anything! It was probably one of the biggest let downs in my first grade life I had ever encountered, but now, coming back as a senior in high school (and knowing about artwork conservation), I know it was for a good reason.
Four weeks ago I had no idea that I would be creating a post that would be viewed by anyone who accessed Milwaukee Art Museum Blog. When I first started the internship I was ecstatic: Working at the art museum? I was movin’ on up in life. Then when I found out I was going to create a blog post, you could pretty much say my day–if not year–was made.
To me, art is not about the finished product but instead is a process of thoughts, motives, symbols, creativity and challenge. A museum’s central purpose is to secure and preserve the heritage of each work as a whole, ensuring that the voice of each artist is heard to reflect their thoughts, curiosity, and growth. Museums connect art with visitors beyond just the visual sense.
On a personal level, art has always been a part of my life. Whether it be in dance, thought, or in action; art surrounds me. As an intern here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, my appreciation for creativity, innovation, and artists new and old has only grown. Art as a whole, has changed through time, increasing in meaning and expression. In my eyes, the finished product of art does not need to make complete sense to every individual. The same piece of art I may find beautiful may not meet another’s standards of beauty. Art lives on, beyond the surface of a canvas, in the Museum.
While other teenagers spent their summer sleeping in, playing video games, and eating junk food, I was given the wonderful opportunity to work behind-the-scenes at the Milwaukee Art Museum along with fifteen other high schoolers.
During our internship, we learned in depth about the hard work and dedication that goes into running a museum. The internship was also part of the TED-Ed Clubs pilot program, and we were tasked as a group to create a video about our essential question: “What are museums for?”
No one really knows how much the Milwaukee Art Museum can make an impact on their life if they never take a visit. In becoming an intern at the Milwaukee Art Museum, I have seen the Museum in a different perspective: how it has a role in people’s lives and in the community.
Starting from a small art gallery, the Milwaukee Art Museum merged and combined with other organizations and people to form what it is now. With, of course, the help of the community, the Museum has thrived into a famous attraction. A few people from the community went out of their way to start the Museum, and now the Museum is returning the favor to the community as a place to view and learn about art. Visitors even count the Museum one of “the top three of all I’ve seen since traveling around the world.”
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.
Last month, I wrote about the first part of the exhibition The Layton Art Collection: 1888-2013. I introduced the great Milwaukee businessman and art patron Frederick Layton, and touched upon the founding of the Layton Art Gallery. The first section ends with the death of Frederick Layton.
The second section, which is my favorite part in the exhibit, starts with Charlotte Partridge.
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.
On a searingly sun-filled afternoon, I set out on an adventure with my intrepid photographer friend, Meg, seeking the Milwaukee studio where Heather Hambrecht creates her fantastic organic leather handbag line, (h(om)e). We were armed with an address, detailed directions and a GPS—so we weren’t really expecting a grand adventure requiring a one-woman rescue mission to get us through the final blocks to our urban destination.
Kid Tested, Mother Approved
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.