Announcing the opening of Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet at the Milwaukee Art Museum


Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet, a new installation by the Chipstone Foundation, will open in the Constance and Dudley Godfrey American Wing in the Milwaukee Art Museum on February 20, 2016.

The Chipstone Foundation is a private foundation based in Milwaukee devoted to the study of American decorative arts and material culture.  Chipstone has partnered with the Milwaukee Art Museum for more than 15 years to share its collection of early American furniture, ceramics and prints and English ceramics with the community.

Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet is a lavish nineteenth-century interior, filled with some of the finest and most diverse objects found in the British Atlantic colonies in the seventeenth century.  This Cabinet is designed to inspire wonder, curiosity and perhaps even some mystery. Mrs. M.––––– herself is a mysterious character, one who exists somewhere between fact and fiction. Her remarkable tale and impressive collection allow the Chipstone Foundation to tell unexpectedly true stories about early America.

Curator and Director of Research Sarah Anne Carter explains, “Mrs. M.––––– collected historic items from around the world in a period (the late nineteenth century) when designers were drawing inspiration from diverse cultures. Her nineteenth-century room is the ideal way to highlight the cosmopolitan nature of her seventeenth-century collection.” When asked whether or not Mrs. M.–––––  really existed, Carter demurred, “Mrs. M.––––– is as real as any historical person you may wish to recreate.” Director and Chief Curator of the Chipstone Foundation, Jonathan Prown, adds  “Most art museum presentations are historically ambivalent, often rooted in the complex cultural and aesthetic needs of the museum makers themselves. In our installation, essential facts and ideas from the past are presented through Mrs. M.–––––.”

Handcrafted by skilled artisans, Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet is inspired by the McKim, Mead and White interiors in Isaac Bell House in Newport Rhode Island. Designer Brent Budsberg notes, “The carefully researched, handmade paneling and elaborate late-nineteenth-century details represent thousands of hours of work by many skilled craftspeople. Only the best for Mrs. M.––––.”

In addition to exploring her priceless collection of historic ceramics, you may pull a golden cord to witness a Pepper’s Ghost illusion, page through Mrs. M.––––– ’s personal scrapbook, or peer into her private office. To learn more, please visit or

Please contact Sarah Anne Carter, for more information. Images are available at