The Newly Restored Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum reopened to the public on November 24, 2015, after a multi-year, $34 million renovation project. The Museum’s main galleries, the 1957 Eero Saarinen-designed War Memorial Center and the David Kahler addition from 1975, were restored and reconfigured to provide 150,000 square feet dedicated to the display of the Museum’s world-class permanent collection, with a changing exhibition gallery in a new east addition.

Complementing the permanent American fine and decorative art collection, shown in renovated galleries featuring a more traditional display of American fine and decorative art, the new Constance and Dudley Godfrey American Art Wing also presents five distinctive installations that the Chipstone Foundation developed in collaboration with Brandon Ruud, the Constance and Dudley J. Godfrey Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts. According to Chipstone Curator Sarah Carter, the Foundation endeavors to “use works of art in our collection to tell meaningful stories about both the past and the present, stories that empower our visitors to make connections and to ask new questions.”

While the Chipstone exhibits pay tribute to the Foundation’s dedication to the history of American material culture, two in particular employ the institution’s trademark dedication to scholarly innovation. The Chipstone Cosmos, for example, employs the metaphor of constellations to present a series of related points and stories about eight fascinating objects. NEO presents the work of contemporary artists who engage with historical furniture forms. In early 2016, Chipstone will open a fifth space, Mrs. M.—-s Cabinet, a collector’s cabinet that highlights the cosmopolitan origins of 17th-century America through a reinvented 19th-century interior.

Additionally, the MAM now features galleries devoted exclusively to modern and contemporary material, organized by Demmer Curator of 20th- and 21st- Century Design Monica Obniski. The section includes an area focused on American modern design of the late 1920s and early 1930s, featuring one of Viktor Schreckengost’s “jazz” bowls and a cocktail set designed by Elsa Tennhardt. There is a dramatic display of chairs suspended from the 1975 Kahler-designed concrete wall. The presentation uses this trope to suggest another way to mediate modernity: by viewing chairs via their materials and methods of production—from tubular steel and plywood to mold-injected plastic and 3-D-printed polyurethane. Obniski noted that, “As a recent addition to the curatorial team at MAM, I was excited by the opportunity to reinstall the growing modern and contemporary design collection in thought-provoking ways. It is my sincere hope that design and decorative arts, as the most accessible parts of the art museum, will inspire the next generation of thinkers and collectors.”

The selections on view within many of these displays will rotate, encouraging visitors to come often.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SAVE THE DATE
  • Special Program: Tour of the Newark Museum with retiring Chief Curator Ulysses Dietz
    November 3
  • New York Antiques Weekend
    January 19-20, 2018
  • Emerging Scholars Colloquium
    January 21, 2018
  • Symposium
    Upper Hudson River Valley: From the Mohawk to the Berkshires
    May 3-6, 2018
  • Symposium
    New Orleans & the Mississippi Delta
    Fall 2018
  • Study Trip
    Vienna & Prague
    With an extension to Budapest
    October, 2018

The Milwaukee Art Museum reopened to the public on November 24, 2015, after a multi-year, $34 million renovation project. The Museum’s main galleries, the 1957 Eero Saarinen-designed War Memorial Center and the David Kahler addition from 1975, were restored and reconfigured to provide 150,000 square feet dedicated to the display of the Museum’s world-class permanent collection, with a changing exhibition gallery in a new east addition.

Complementing the permanent American fine and decorative art collection, shown in renovated galleries featuring a more traditional display of American fine and decorative art, the new Constance and Dudley Godfrey American Art Wing also presents five distinctive installations that the Chipstone Foundation developed in collaboration with Brandon Ruud, the Constance and Dudley J. Godfrey Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts. According to Chipstone Curator Sarah Carter, the Foundation endeavors to “use works of art in our collection to tell meaningful stories about both the past and the present, stories that empower our visitors to make connections and to ask new questions.”

While the Chipstone exhibits pay tribute to the Foundation’s dedication to the history of American material culture, two in particular employ the institution’s trademark dedication to scholarly innovation. The Chipstone Cosmos, for example, employs the metaphor of constellations to present a series of related points and stories about eight fascinating objects. NEO presents the work of contemporary artists who engage with historical furniture forms. In early 2016, Chipstone will open a fifth space, Mrs. M.—-s Cabinet, a collector’s cabinet that highlights the cosmopolitan origins of 17th-century America through a reinvented 19th-century interior.

Additionally, the MAM now features galleries devoted exclusively to modern and contemporary material, organized by Demmer Curator of 20th- and 21st- Century Design Monica Obniski. The section includes an area focused on American modern design of the late 1920s and early 1930s, featuring one of Viktor Schreckengost’s “jazz” bowls and a cocktail set designed by Elsa Tennhardt. There is a dramatic display of chairs suspended from the 1975 Kahler-designed concrete wall. The presentation uses this trope to suggest another way to mediate modernity: by viewing chairs via their materials and methods of production—from tubular steel and plywood to mold-injected plastic and 3-D-printed polyurethane. Obniski noted that, “As a recent addition to the curatorial team at MAM, I was excited by the opportunity to reinstall the growing modern and contemporary design collection in thought-provoking ways. It is my sincere hope that design and decorative arts, as the most accessible parts of the art museum, will inspire the next generation of thinkers and collectors.”

The selections on view within many of these displays will rotate, encouraging visitors to come often.

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