April 6–August 10, 2013
Something special happened in Milwaukee 125 years ago. British-born businessman Frederick Layton decided to build an art gallery near Cathedral Square for his adopted city. When the Layton Art Gallery opened in April 1888, it laid the foundation for what would become the Milwaukee Art Museum.
In 2013, the Milwaukee Art Museum celebrates its founding and its years of growth and adventure through three anniversary exhibitions.
Two special exhibitions celebrate this history and the Layton Collection’s 125 years of contributions to the art and culture of Milwaukee. Gallery 10 in the Museum’s European galleries will evoke part of the Layton Art Gallery’s pre-war splendor through a dramatic, Salon-style installation of European and American art, drawn from works shown at the art gallery between 1888 and 1918. In the Decorative Arts Gallery on the Museum’s Lower Level, the rich history of the Layton Collection is examined in an exhibition co-organized with the Chipstone Foundation. The collection is explored from its origins within a purpose-built art gallery to its role in bringing Modernism to Milwaukee, to its contributions to the promotion of American fine and decorative arts in the half-century it has shared space with the Museum.
In Baumgartner Galleria, a selection of photographs, models, books, videos, and letters recall the full range of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s history. Drawn from the Museum’s institutional archives, these materials document the Museum’s 1888 founding, phases of growth and collaboration, deep community involvement, and the many world-class acquisitions. The exhibition highlights architectural achievements, local media responses, and first-person accounts that express the important role of the Museum within the city.