Byrdcliffe: Creativity and Creation

July 15–August 29, 2021
The Godfrey American Art Wing, Level 2, Gallery K230

Layton Art Collection Focus Exhibition

“Though Byrdcliffe brimmed with spiritual moxie—and fun, too, as attested by photographs of picnics, parties and such—its most important material product was the beautifully decorated Arts and Crafts furniture turned out by the colony’s woodworking shop.” —The New York Times

For a utopian community in upstate New York, handcrafting, natural materials, and organic design were guiding principles. The Arts and Crafts movement was growing in popularity—it was the early twentieth century—and the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony (active 1902–1915) put the movement’s anti-industrialization position into active practice. The drawings, designs, ceramics, and furniture that came out of Byrdcliffe, one of several such communities to emerge in that part of the country at the time, had a distinct style and aesthetic continuity. Developed alongside Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft and Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops, Byrdcliffe was built on the idealistic vision of its founders, Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead and Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead.

Byrdcliffe: Creativity and Creation traces the creative process behind many of Byrdcliffe’s designs through works drawn from the Layton Art Collection and local private collections.

Virtual Tour

Experience the exhibition virtually, through a 360-degree, interactive tour.

Byrdcliffe: Creativity and Creation, Annual Layton Focus Exhibition and Lecture

Supporting Sponsors: Barbara Nitchie Fuldner Layton Art Collection, Inc.
Thanks to the Museum Visionaries:Donna and Donald Baumgartner John and Murph Burke Sheldon and Marianne Lubar Joel and Caran Quadracci Sue and Bud Selig Jeff Yabuki and the Yabuki Family Foundation

Byrdcliffe: Creativity and Creation is a Layton Art Collection Focus Exhibition. The steward of the collection that Frederick Layton started, one of Milwaukee’s founding public art collections, the Layton Art Collection Inc. is proud to partner with the Milwaukee Art Museum.

  • Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead for White Pines Pottery, Nature Study (“Eucalyptus”), 1913 (detail). Watercolor over pencil. Layton Art Collection Inc.