On loan from local living rooms. See what Milwaukee collects.

See treasures from private, local collections—works of art from throughout the Greater Milwaukee area that are typically not on public view. Milwaukee Collects celebrates the breadth of collecting in our community, from Impressionist paintings to hallmarks of Art Deco design, by artists from Jules Chéret to Ed Ruscha.

This Milwaukee Art Museum–produced exhibition is drawn from nearly 50 collections and includes more than 100 objects, bringing the community’s passion for collecting art into focus. “Milwaukee’s collectors have very carefully considered and built their collections based on their personal interests and unique artistic eye,” said Marcelle Polednik, PhD, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director. “While we inherently knew Milwaukee as an active collecting community, we were time and again pleasantly surprised by the deliberation and great care with which these collections were built.”

Meet the Collectors

John Holabird, John Wellborn Root, Jr., Gear Table, for the A. O. Smith Research and Engineering Building, ca. 1930. Cast aluminum and glass. Lent by Jody and Dick Goisman, L39.2006. Photo by John R. Glembin

Jody and Dick Goisman

Jody and Dick Goisman’s passion for decorative arts and design, particularly Art Deco, started early in their lives. They, in turn, became strong leaders in the creation, funding, and acquisition of objects for the Museum’s design collection. Their loans are featured in Milwaukee Collects and the Demmer Design Gallery. Learn more about their life as collectors, as shared with Monica Obniski, Demmer Curator of 20th- and 21st-Century Design.

Q: When did the collecting bug bite?

A: We were both in Madison at the same time. I was a student living in an Art Deco building on campus, and Dick was studying for the bar exam and already collecting prints. On our first date, we went to the Mid-America Antiques Center in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, and Dick bought a first edition of The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), an icon of Art Deco design. We were hooked.

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Ludwig Knaus, The Golden Wedding, 1859. Oil on canvas. Collection of Eckhart and Ischi Grohmann.

Eckhart Grohmann

Eckhart Grohmann has collected art since the 1960s. His “Man at Work” collection, which he donated to the Milwaukee School of Engineering, comprises more than eleven hundred paintings and sculptures and focuses on people at work through time. The Grohmann Museum at MSOE is named in his honor.

Q: Can you tell us about the work by Ludwig Knaus that you lent to Milwaukee Collects?

A: I love the picture because I went to school close to the village of Willingshausen, between Frankfurt and Kassel, where Ludwig Knaus and many other nineteenth-century German painters studied. Knaus made many visits there because he liked the originality of the country folks.

The painting was first shown, in Paris, in 1859 and was extremely well received. It was then shown in Vienna and Cologne in 1864. After that, it fell off the map—nobody knew where it went. For 120 years, the original painting’s location was unknown, and all that existed were black-and-white lithographs. In 2000, the work came up at a Sotheby’s auction, and I realized that was my Dance Under the Linden Tree [a work by Knaus in the Museum’s collection], and I had to buy it.

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Tyanna Buie, Still Life #2, 2014. Acrylic, charcoal, and monoprint on paper. Collection of Sande Robinson.

Sande Robinson

Sande Robinson is a former trustee of the Milwaukee Art Museum and the president of the African American Art Alliance, one of the Museum’s nine support groups. She is lending Still Life #2 by Milwaukee-native Tyanna Buie to the exhibition.

Q: When did you start collecting and with what work of art?

A: I started collecting when I was a student at Kent State University in the 1970s. I used to cut through the art department on my way to and from class. I would listen in on their critiques, watch them draw and paint. I bought my first professional piece of art during an art sale, from a student who had graduated from the department.

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Albert Renger-Patzsch, Salpetersäurebetrieb, Absorptionsanlage Bamag, Ruhrchemie, Oberhausen-Holten (Salpeter Plant, Absorption Facility Bamag, Ruhrchemie, Oberhausen-Holten), 1938. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Christine A. Symchych and James P. McNulty.

Christine Symchych

Christine Symchych is a member of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s board. She and her husband, Jim McNulty, focus their collecting on photography.

Q: Which picture will you miss the most while it is on view in Milwaukee Collects?

A: The Albert Renger-Patzsch picture is one of our personal favorites. It’s not our biggest, it’s not our flashiest, it’s not our most valuable (in the common sense of the word), but it’s really one of our favorites.

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Milwaukee Sings

In conjunction with its feature exhibitions Milwaukee Collects and Rashid Johnson: Hail We Now Sing Joy, the Milwaukee Art Museum is collecting voices to create a virtual choir. Everyone is invited to participate. Simply make a video of yourself singing, rapping, or playing an instrument to the song “This Land Is Your Land.” The Museum will collect each entry and merge them together, creating a textured version of the song to play twice a day as the Museum’s “wings” open and close, and on an in-gallery video.

Download lyrics sheet and score

Download piano track

Below are examples of different ways the song can be interpreted.

Thank you for participating in Milwaukee Sings!

Supporting Sponsors: Sendik’s Food Markets, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, International Autos Group, and Clear Channel Outdoor.
Additional support provided by these Milwaukee Art Museum support groups: American Arts Society, Collectors’ Corner, Fine Arts Society, Friends of Art, Garden Club, and Print Forum.
Image: Roy Lichtenstein, Red Lamps, 1990 (published 1991) (detail). Collection of Bud and Sue Selig. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein