Museum Hires Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design

Posted on October 29th, 2014

Milwaukee Art Museum hires Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design

Milwaukee, Wis. – The Milwaukee Art Museum is delighted to announce the appointment of Monica Obniski as the Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design. She will join the staff in January 2015.

Since 2011, Obniski has been the Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she began as a research associate and exhibition coordinator in 2007. During her tenure, she co-organized and co-authored Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago (2009), co-authored For Kith and Kin: The Folk Art Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago (2012), and oversaw several installations, including new galleries featuring twentieth-century decorative arts and design objects.

Prior to her work at the Art Institute, Obniski was a research assistant in the American decorative arts department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also has taught at various universities, including Columbia College, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Parsons The New School for Design.

“As the Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design, Monica will be in charge of a growing collection of modern design distinguished by holdings of Prairie School, American Art Deco, Machine Age Industrial Design, and Mid-Century Modern,” said Brady Roberts, chief curator for the Milwaukee Art Museum. “She will lead the process for installing the design collection in the newly renovated galleries, which will open in late 2015.”

Obniski has an MA in the history of decorative arts and design from the Bard Graduate Center in New York, and a BA in art history from Loyola University Chicago. She is currently completing her PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago with the dissertation “Accumulating Things: Folk Art and Modern Design in the Postwar American Projects of Alexander H. Girard.”

“I am honored to be chosen as the next Demmer Curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum,” said Obniski. “The Museum’s outstanding collection and dedicated team make it the perfect home for me. I look forward to delving deeper into the trove of design objects at the Museum.”

The Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design position is underwritten by the Edward U. Demmer Foundation, longtime supporters of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Design program. The Demmer Board is comprised of Richard Goisman, Robert Hanley, and Wayne Lueders.

Prominently situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, the Milwaukee Art Museum campus welcomes over 400,000 visitors annually. The Museum was founded over 125 years ago and is the largest and most significant art museum in Wisconsin. It houses a rich collection of over 30,000 works, with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, and American decorative arts. It is the world’s leading repository for work by untrained creators and has one of the largest collections of works by Georgia O’Keeffe. The Museum’s celebrated Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, completed in 2001, showcases both Museum-produced and traveling feature exhibitions.

Beginning in fall 2014, the Museum began an ambitious project to renovate its two oldest buildings, the Eero Saarinen–designed War Memorial Center (1957) and the David Kahler–designed addition (1975), which house the Museum’s Collection Galleries. Increased gallery space, including an entire floor dedicated to photography and new media, an improved gallery layout, and a new lakeside entrance are among the improvements planned. The collections will be off view through fall 2015; however, the Museum is open throughout construction, with a vibrant schedule of exciting exhibitions, educational offerings, and special programs in the Quadracci Pavilion. For more information, visit mam.org.