Art in a work of art

The Milwaukee Art Museum is a gem of a museum. There is the largest collection of German genre painting and Mettlach Steins in the US (fitting for what some consider the most German-American city, take that Zin-Zin-Atti) and a small holding of the greats, a Picasso, a Monet (Waterloo Bridge, one of many takes), a Renoir, Pissaro, etc.

I find it manageable in scale, you can see the whole thing in a day, it isn’t a palatial holding, and the situating of the building by the lake with lots of incredible views help punctuate the artwork. Its delightful and I don’t feel like it’s a chore to visit. To be clear, I love the giant museums as well, like the Met, but they are so big, you have to be decisive, do I see the Egyptian hall or the Impressionists (if you’re like me, ideally both, but time allowances and lines make it a challenge). Personally, if I go to Paris, I would likely go to the dozens of smaller art collections or artist specific ones (the Rodin museum for instance) than the Louvre, I don’t want to wait in line to see the Mona Lisa, and I suspect it would underwhelm me. Art museums should be quiet and peaceful places of contemplation, and I won’t jockey with half of humanity to see a painting on the screen of another tourist’s iPhone.

I digress, as I tend to.
What I like about the museum most perhaps is the building itself. It truly is a feat of engineering. I have written about it before, and there are countless other articles that exist that can provide more insight into the engineering or design aspects. So, here is a picture instead, they say they are worth 1,000 words.

They were setting up for a wedding when I peeked behind the curtain. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain I yelled as I reached for the snack tray.

25 thoughts on “Art in a work of art

  1. I agree with you, Robert. Smaller museum sites have a greater appeal to me. One can only mentally and emotionally digest so much before everything in one’s mind becomes blurred.

    • Yes, that is how I experience it too and that sometimes takes away from the experience as I’m unable to process anything else that I see. I’m sure there is some psychological term like museum fatigue or painting prostration but I do find it happens a good deal.

      • I think it can be quite an intense experience – absorbing lots of information, examining exhibits or paintings, and frequently in low light conditions, putting quite a strain on our eyes and brains.

  2. I laughed at your line about “[jockeying] with half of humanity to see a painting on the screen of another tourist’s iPhone.” Some years ago a good blog-friend went to Paris, tried the museums, and ended up posting a photo of hordes of people all holding up their phones to photograph whatever was the special of the day.

    Even in architecture, small can be beautiful. When I was in London one year, I skipped hours in St. Paul’s and spent time instead in Christopher Wren’s parish churches. There were some real gems.

    This museum looks wonderful. I like the contrast between what seems to be a draped fabric curtain (perhaps for the wedding) and the curtain-like structure itself.

    • Christopher Wren’s parish churches sound lovely, I agree, architecture can work marvels on a smaller scale too. I feel on the fence sometimes about tourist things, there is some reason people are drawn to them, it would be hard to visit NY and not see Times Square or Central Park, but you need to also balance it with the lesser visited places to get both a fuller picture and retain some sanity.
      I am generally drawn to quieter spaces with less people so the pictures I have seen from the Louvre of just rooms of people shoulder to shoulder to see a painting sounds nerve wracking. Milwaukee has several great museums and a very small collection owned by one of the Allis-Chalmers people that I love precisely due to it’s diminutive scale.

      Thank you! I am quite pleased with the shot, it was one of many I took in rapid succession but turned out very well!

  3. George says:

    Wow. That looks stunning. I remember being awed by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for its similarly inspiring architecture. Agree totally, art galleries should allow you space to gaze, absorb, and be transported.

    And perhaps confuse. My brother once dropped his scarf in the Pompadou Centre in Paris. When he went back to retrieve it, there were three people stood around it, studiously pondering it. They all looked horrified when he picked it up and walked off with it.

    • I looked that one in San Francisco up, quite the structure! Another city I have to visit someday.

      Yeah, I think the transportation is lost in a larger space, you’re overwhelmed and it detracts from the display. I guess if the world wants to converge on the handful of larger places that frees up the rest for the likes of us!

      Ha, that’s a hilarious story. I can picture it. I have read about similar things in other museums, a believe a janitor’s lunch once was viewed with the same awe and wonder as a Caravaggio but that’s art.

  4. Darts and Letters says:

    That inside picture reminds me or makes me wonder, of what the Sydney opera house must look like inside, but on a different scale, I suppose. That’s really neat how you can see the horizon of Lake Michigan through the atrium windows! Hope you’re doing good, Robert.

    • I had never thought of that, but now I’m very curious how it looks inside the Sydney Opera House, I imagine the scale is far grander but similar. I love how the lake is highlighted by the museum, Milwaukee did a good job on displaying their waterfront and really utilizing it as a tourist and civic space. Other cities build highways by theirs and that seems to take away from their beauty.
      I’m doing well, hope the same for you. Bit of a cold, but usually I get a mild one when the seasons change so not terrible!

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