Current Exhibition

Jan. 19 – April 28, 2024
Patterns of Meaning: The Art of Industry by Cory Bonnet

In June 2021, Pittsburgh artist and preservationist Cory Bonnet, along with scrap dealer Chip Barletto, acquired an enormous collection of wooden casting patterns from the late-1800s and early-1900s.  Since then, ten 26-foot box trucks filled with patterns have made their way to Bonnet’s studio in the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) at the foot of Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

With the collection moved and assembled at the EIC, Bonnet set about combining these historic steel mill artifacts with his industrial painting. Viewing each pattern as “a work of art in its own right,” he began using the patterns in new ways: as support for his paintings, as sculptures to create artistic assemblages, and as forms to create new pieces in glass, ceramic, and other materials. As such, Bonnet’s paintings and sculptures become monuments to industry created from these salvaged materials to reflect the awe, respect, and gratitude he holds for the sacrifice and accomplishments prior generations made to provide what we now too often take for granted.

The sheer scale of the collection ultimately led Bonnet to assemble a multidisciplinary group of artists to fully explore its potential. Since Patterns of Meaning was first exhibited at the EIC, the collection continues to grow and evolve through Bonnet’s collaboration with the Patterns creative team of Angela Neira, Nate Lucas, Brian Engel, AJ Collins, Mia Tarducci, and Andrew Moschetta. This special exhibition at the Grohmann Museum will be the first museum exhibition of this breathtaking collection merging art and industry. Do not miss the opportunity to experience this one-of-a-kind display first hand.

Upcoming Exhibitions

March 22 – May 26, 2024
H.D. Tylle at Seventy: American Worklife

On the occasion of Hans Dieter Tylle's 70th birthday, the Grohmann Museum is organizing a retrospective of over 20 years of his artistic exploration of the world of work in Wisconsin. The renowned German artist has forged a career as a contemporary chronicler of labor and industry.

As the artist responsible for many of the site-specific artworks at the Museum, Tylle has also created works for many companies in the United States. This has resulted in more than 150 paintings of working scenes. Included in the exhibition are paintings of such local companies as Aluminum Casting & Engineering Company, Charter Steel, RES Manufacturing, Kondex Corporation, Pieper Power, Michels Corporation, MetalTek International, and Scot Forge Company, among others.

Tylle currently lives and works in Fuldatal in the State of Hessen, Germany. Wisconsin and Hessen have a partnership dating to 1976—working together in the areas of commerce, research, and education. In the spirit of this partnership, this exhibition is presented through the support of the Hessen-Wisconsin Society and will include a concert by German soprano Astrid Weber, accompanied by Janna Ernst, principal coach and pianist for the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.

Horizontal Directional Drilling, Watertown, WI USA,

May 9 – Aug. 23, 2024
Crossing the DMZ: A Contemporary Look at Working Women 

Photographs by Dennis Darmek

Opening reception—Thursday, May 9, 5-8p.m.

Although a locally based artist, Dennis Darmek’s photography has a global view. Often touching upon the enduring bond between the United States and Vietnam, Darmek’s experiences as a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War guide his art. Crossing the DMZ is the third media project of his which explores that connection. Spanning from video art to a photography book, Darmek contemplates Vietnam in the years since the war, as well as the lasting relationship between American and Vietnamese citizens. This third iteration of Crossing the DMZ examines the economy of Vietnam and acknowledges the influence that the war has had on Vietnam, from a scarred landscape to the tourist industry that emerged in recent years.

However, the primary focus of this photography exhibition is women at work. Between traditional jobs and today’s industries, women comprise a sizable portion of the workforce. From floating markets to street vendors, from farming rice and coffee to making deliveries on a scooter in cities, women shape the economy and culture of Vietnam. In his travels to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia, Darmek uses his art to capture underappreciated moments of labor and brings greater attention to these working women.

Upcoming Events

April 19-20, 2024
Gallery Night & Day

Visit us during Gallery Night & Day and receive free admission from 5-9p.m. on April 19 and 12-6p.m. on April 20.

April 22-25, 2024
Cast in Steel Conference

Steel Founders Society of America presents the 2024 Cast in Steel Conference hosted at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. University student teams from around the world are challenged to use modern casting tools to creatively design and produce a functioning Halligan bar – a multipurpose tool used by firefighters to gain access to buildings and vehicles.
Attend the event to watch future engineers and their projects in action. Halligan bars will go through a series of tests in the Grohmann Museum parking lot, where they will be judged, with awards given to the winning teams.

Join us for special events throughout the week:

Milwaukee Fire Department Engine 21 Visit
Monday, April 22 from 10:30a.m.-12:30p.m.
Milwaukee Street

Cast in Steel Competition
Monday, April 22 from 1-5p.m.
Grohmann Museum Parking Lot

Cast in Steel Awards
Tuesday, April 23 from 9-10a.m.
Grohmann Museum Parking Lot

Milwaukee Fire Department History Talk with local historian Frank Alioto
Tuesday, April 23 from 12-1p.m.
Grohmann Museum Auditorium
About the speaker: Frank D. Alioto is a retired Battalion Chief with the Milwaukee Fire Department. He has a passion for local history and has authored his monthly column, "A Brief History Lesson," for Brady Street News since 1996. In 2008 he published his book Milwaukee's Brady Street Neighborhood. Alioto is involved in the community and has volunteered with Milwaukee County Historical Society and Historic Milwaukee, Inc. His most recent endeavor chronicles the history of the Milwaukee Fire Department, from the horse-drawn era to the present as well as his thirty-two-year career, utilizing both image and story.

For more information, visit the Steel Founders Society of America website.

May 9, 2024
Crossing the DMZ Grand Opening

Join us for the grand opening of Crossing the DMZ: A Contemporary Look at Working Women.

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Past Exhibitions

  • Mining Gems: Stories from the Collection
  • Excavations: Paintings and Drawings by Michael Newhall
  • David Plowden: The Architecture of Agriculture
  • A Time of Toil & Triumph: Selections from the Shogren-Meyer Collection of American Art
  • Familias Unidas: Tribute to the Migrant Farm Worker Labor Movement in Wisconsin, 1960s-70s
  • Robert O. Lahmann: Working in Wisconsin
  • The Railroad and the Art of Place: Photographs by David Kahler 
  • artWORK by the League of Milwaukee Artists 
  • Electric Steel: Recent Photographs by Michael Schultz 
  • TWO EDMUNDS: Fitzgerald and Lewandowski—Their Mark on Milwaukee 
  • IRONBOAT: New Photography by Christopher Winters 
  • The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee 
  • Roll Up Your Sleeves 
  • Growing Place: A Visual Study of Urban Farming 
  • David Plowden's Portraits of Work
  • Wallace W. Abbey: A Life in Railroad Photography 
  • The Art and Mechanics of Animation 
  • Masterworks from the Grohmann Museum - Celebrating 10 Years 
  • Artists at Work: The Cedarburg Artists Guild 
  • STEEL: The Cycle of Industry by David Plowden 
  • On the Job: Photography by Jim Seder 
  • Milwaukee's Industrial Landscapes: Paintings by Michael Newhall 
  • Art of the North Shore Line 
  • Forge Work: New Photography by Michael Schultz 
  • Metal for Mettle: Historic Commemorative Medals Honoring Labor and Achievement 
  • H.D. Tylle: Studies 
  • Carl Spitzweg in Milwaukee
  • The Art of the Milwaukee Road 
  • Erich Mercker: Painter of Industry
  • Art Shay: Working 
  • Trains that Passed in the Night: Railroad Photographs of O Winston Link 
  • A Working Ranch by Jim Brozek 
  • Born of Fire: Scenes of Industry from the Westmoreland Museum of American Art 
  • Bridges: The Spans of North America - Photographs by David Plowden 
  • MSOE at Work: Selections from the Campus Archives 
  • Carl Spitzweg: The Poor Poet and Other Characters 
  • Great Lakers: Selections from the Great Lakes Marine Collection of the Milwaukee Public Library 
  • H. D. Tylle: Touring Germany and Working in Wisconsin 
  • Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden 
  • Milwaukee Mills: A Visual History 
  • Lake Boats: The Photography of Jim Brozek and Christopher Winters 
  • Wonders of Work and Labor: The Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art, Penn State University 
  • Working Wisconsin: Selections from the Museum of Wisconsin Art 
  • Foundry Work: A View of the Industry, The Photographs of Michael Schultz 
  • Midwest Murals: Joe Jones and J.B. Turnbull from the Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University 
  • The Bookworm by Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885) 
  • Wisconsin at Work: Thorsten Lindberg Paintings and Drawings from the MCHS Collection 
  • Cradle of Industry: Works from the Rhineland Industrial Museum 
  • American Steel: Works from the Collection of Tom and Lorie Annarella 
  • A Focus on Figures
  • Stone
  • Physicians, Quacks, and Alchemists