What began as a temporary exhibition at the Grohmann Museum has again turned into a permanent gift to the collection. Thomas H. Garver has donated nine of O. Winston Link’s photographic prints to the museum, five of which are signed by the photographer.
“On the heels of an extremely successful and well-received exhibition of O. Winston Link’s photography, Mr. Garver’s gift significantly increases the scope and quality of the Grohmann Museum’s photographic holdings,” said James Kieselburg, Grohmann Museum director.
Garver donated the photos to the museum following the exhibition Trains that Passed in the Night: Railroad Photographs of O. Winston Link (Grohmann Museum, 2014). The exhibition, organized by Garver and the Center for Railroad Photography and Art in Madison, featured 36 framed, original prints by Link, a Brooklyn, New York, native and commercial photographer who became well-recognized for his complex images of factory and industrial plant interiors. For Link, the steam railroad was a vital ingredient to “the good life’ in America, an essential part of the fabric of our lives. It is this quality—of life, not machinery—which he captures so artfully in his photographs.
Link’s photographs showcase the final years of steam railroading on the Norfolk & Western Railway, the last major railroad in America to operate exclusively with steam power. They are regarded as one of the best records of this long vanished type of locomotion, yet the broad appeal of Link’s photographs is derived not so much from the images of the steam locomotives themselves, but from the way in which their inclusion expresses the photographer’s deeply felt respect for the quality of life that the steam railroad reflected and supported for so many years in the United States.
The Grohmann Museum is home to the Man at Work collection, which comprises more than 1,000 paintings and sculptures dating from 1580 to the present. They reflect a variety of artistic styles and subjects that document the evolution of organized work: from farming and mining to trades such as glassblowing and seaweed gathering. The Grohmann Museum welcomes visitors to three floors of galleries where a core collection is displayed as well as themed exhibitions. The museum is owned by MSOE, an independent university with about 2,600 students. MSOE offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the engineering, business, mathematics and nursing fields.