Behind the Scenes Exhibitions

Behind the Scenes–The Music of the “Wings”

Quadracci Pavilion, Milwaukee Art Museum. Designed by Santiago Calatrava.
Quadracci Pavilion, Milwaukee Art Museum. Designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Picture this: You’re watching the wings open on the Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion and you realize you hear music… Ever wonder who is behind its creation? I have! The answer is the talented Kris Martinez, Interactive Designer at the Museum. Below, straight from Kris, is everything you ever wanted to know about the music of the Museum.

My name is Kris Martinez, and I am an Interactive Designer at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Some of my daily tasks include designing websites for our feature exhibitions, creating interactive installations, and creating television commercials. I also compose musical themes for the Museum.

For the past year, the Museum has featured short musical pieces that play when the wings open and close. This happens three times a day: 10 AM when the Museum opens, noon when the wings flap, and 5 PM (or 8 PM on Thursdays) when the Museum closes. Each arrangement is unique and is inspired by the Museum’s feature exhibition.

Art Events Exhibitions

What’s Happening at the Milwaukee Art Museum: August 29-September 5

Looking for something to do as the kids head off to school this week? Come in to the Milwaukee Art Museum! The Museum is open seven days a week through Labor Day, and active military and their families receive FREE admission, thanks to Blue Star Museums.

But – on Thursday, September 1, admission is FREE for ALL individuals thanks to Target Free First Thursdays! The Museum is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, and it will be your last chance to see The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City for free before it closes on Sunday, September 11.

Art Behind the Scenes Museum Store

A Simple Translation from Museum Artwork to Museum Keepsake

The Museum Store has a dedicated staff person whose primary responsibility is “Product Development.”

Julia Jackson is the Museum Store’s creative brain-power and organizational manager behind items like the Roy Lichtenstein Crying Girl V-neck T-shirt shown at left (I get so many complements when I wear mine and it’s really soft, too!) and the Calatrava-inspired “Wings” earrings that I love.

Every time you pour coffee into your Edmund Tarbell’s Three Sisters mug or admire Bastien-LePage’s Woodgatherer on a poster on your wall, you can thank Julia!

Here is a simplified breakdown of Julia’s design and organization process:

Behind the Scenes Education

“Help Harmony Blossom”–Art Xpress 2011

Araceli puts finishing touches on her panel for the mural.
Araceli puts finishing touches on her panel for the mural.

This summer, fourteen teens from all around the Milwaukee area came together for three packed weeks with a hefty task: to create a mural for the side of a Milwaukee County Transit System bus that would address an important issue in the community, inspired by themes in the Museum’s The Emperor’s Private Paradise exhibition of Chinese art.

That’s right: these teens, pretty much all on their own, had to design a bus mural that included a thought-provoking slogan, a high quality work of public art, and which, as a whole, positively encouraged a viewer to consider how we can improve our city. When I bragged about these teens and their work to my friends, family, and colleagues, I got some raised eyebrows. No one asked, but I could see it in their eyes:

Fourteen people all work together on a project like this? On a public art piece that would be displayed for an entire year?

How could adults accomplish that, they seemed to say, let alone teens?

Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Exhibitions

Being an Intern: It’s not only Makin’ Copies

Prancing Horse with Head Turned, Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE), detail.
Prancing Horse with Head Turned, Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE), detail. James E. Conley, Jr. Collection. Photo by the author.

In 2005, as a senior Art History major at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I worked as an intern for the Museum’s Curatorial Department in Earlier European Art. Working under the expert intern-wrangling leadership of Catherine Sawinski, Assistant Curator of Earlier European Art, I industriously contributed my research (compiling artist biographies for the 2006 Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity exhibition) and customer service (answering public inquiries) skills to the greater cause of making the Milwaukee Art Museum run.

Breaking my daily routine, Laurie Winters (now the Museum’s Director of Exhibitions) and Mary Weaver Chapin (now the Museum’s Associate Curator of Prints & Drawings) asked me if I could go to Chicago with Mary for the day to help with a cataloging project.  We would be visiting an Asian art collection to inventory, measure, and photograph all the objects.

As an intern, I was thrilled with this great opportunity, but I had no idea that this material would reappear in my life 6 years later!