Milwaukee Art Museum Exhibits Polar Photographs from Yesterday and Today

Posted on August 2nd, 2007

Milwaukee, WI, August 2, 2007 – Mixing rare nineteenth-century photographs with some of today’s most outstanding polar photography, the Milwaukee Art Museum is pleased to present Photographs from the Ends of the Earth September 13-December 24, 2007. Comprised of approximately 75 photographs and stereographs dating from 1869 to the present day, the exhibition surveys images of the polar regions over the past century and a half, and invites visitors to probe the exhibition space and subject matter just as the photographers themselves discovered the unique features of the Arctic and Antarctic landscapes.

Photographs from the Ends of the Earth showcases photographs of the Arctic from the 1869 American expedition of Isaac Israel Hayes and continues with images from subsequent expeditions, such as that of Sir Ernest Shackleton, while juxtaposing them with the contemporary photographs that they eventually inspired, by artists Subhankar Banerjee, Diane Cook, Rena Bass Forman, John Holmgren, and Stuart Klipper. Twelve contemporary photographs are interspersed with sixty-five historical images throughout the gallery, prompting comparisons in subject matter and style that illuminate changing perceptions of the polar environments’ extreme-but increasingly fragile-conditions.

“Whether the photographers were documenting unknown geographical territory or creating works of art, the landscape ignited the imagination of explorers and artists alike, and it continues to do so even as it succumbs to the effects of our rapidly warming global climate,” notes exhibition organizer Lisa Hostetler, associate curator of photographs. “These photographers invented our notion of the polar landscape and showed us how to conceive of a completely alien territory, the extreme conditions of which are completely outside of most people’s life experience. They are an ideal embodiment of the curious, exploratory spirit that has been inseparable from photography and its practitioners since the medium’s very inception.”

Photographs from the Ends of the Earth was organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum in collaboration with the American Geographical Society Library of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, and curated by Lisa Hostetler, associate curator of photographs at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Thursday, September 20, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion: 6:15 p.m.
Free with general admission

Explore the polar regions among friends on the Mezzanine Level with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Then attend an informative panel discussion in Lubar Auditorium with the five contemporary artists represented in the exhibition: Subhankar Banerjee, Diane Cook, Stuart Klipper, Rena Bass Forman, and John Holmgren. Sponsored by the Photography Council

Tuesday, September 18, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 16, 1:30 p.m.
Free with general admission

Join curator Lisa Hostetler to learn more about the dramatic polar photographs featured in this new exhibition.


The Milwaukee Art Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, completed in October 2001 and named by Time magazine “Best Design of 2001.” The Milwaukee Art Museum’s far-reaching holdings include more than 20,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thursdays when the Museum stays open until 8 p.m. (supported by Greater Milwaukee Foundation). For more information, visit www.mam.org.

Digital images available upon request