Current Exhibitions

Oct. 20 - Dec. 17, 2023
Excavations: Paintings and Drawings by Michael Newhall

Excavation is the work of taking away a surface or covering to reveal what is beneath it; to remove what is covered by something else, to disclose. The origins of the word trace back thousands of years to a word meaning vault or hollow—a place in which treasure may be found. In the context of this exhibition, Michael Newhall’s Excavation series represents a specific kind of work—the labor to meet or dig into the imagery of life: internal life, social life, connected life, in all its psychological, emotional, and physical senses.

In the artist’s early development at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an important painting in the history of American art, Willem de Kooning’s Excavation (1950), had a particularly strong impact. Though abstract, the painting conveys figurative implications and a powerful psychological flow of energy—composed as a pattern-field, or unified texture, rather than a more conventional arrangement.  In homage to de Kooning, the paintings and drawings of Excavations are in part inspired from Newhall’s first encounter with de Kooning’s work. However, far different than de Kooning’s action-painting, this series involves a progression of densely overlaid representational images—industrial areas of Milwaukee and Chicago—landscapes, figures, animals, objects, icons, all of which progressively form multilayered textures.

Here, Newhall invites viewers to excavate, to dig and uncover, and hopefully unearth something for themselves as it relates to life, work, and art.

Sept. 8 - Dec. 17, 2023
Mining Gems: Stories from the Collection

Over the course of our short history, many stories have surfaced related to the art and artists in the Grohmann Museum Collection. For this exhibition, the Museum’s curators have assembled many of the most entertaining and compelling tales gathered over the past 16 years.

From typesetters in pressrooms giving us the terms uppercase and lowercase to correspondence from international visitors prompting the reattribution of artwork in both time and geography, dozens of narratives reveal rare insights into the collection. This scavenger-hunt-style exhibition will allow visitors to discover that rather than a static assortment of paintings and sculptures, a museum collection is an assemblage that evolves and grows as new works, new ideas, and new stories are collected.

Upcoming Exhibitions

January 19 – April 28, 2024
Cory Bonnet: Patterns of Meaning

Grand Opening January 19—Featuring a Gallery Talk with Cory Bonnet @6:30p.m.

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 firsthand.

Upcoming Events

January 19, 2024
Gallery Night 

Join us for the opening of Cory Bonnet: Patterns of Meaning on Gallery Night featuring a talk with the artist at 6:30p.m. Admission is free from 5-9p.m. on Friday, January 19 and from 12-6p.m. on Saturday, January 20. 

Stay tuned for more upcoming events by joining our mailing list and following us on social media

Past Exhibitions

  • 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