Current Exhibition

May 11 – Aug. 19, 2018
Wallace W. Abbey: A Life in Railroad Photography

Wally Abbey’s voice is essential in telling the story of American railroading in the latter half of the 20th century. As a journalist, author, historian and railroad industry communications executive, he helped a wide variety of constituency groups understand and appreciate what was omnipresent in the nation’s life: a world of locomotives, passenger trains, big-city terminals, small-town depots, along with the hundreds of thousands of people who called themselves railroaders. His command of the subject had roots in his early years as an apprentice railroader and a young reporter, experiences that would inform all his later work in magazines, books and corporate communications.  

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art and the Grohmann Museum at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.) have collaborated to present this exhibition, which features dozens of outstanding photographs from the Center’s Abbey Collection.

Upcoming Exhibition

Sept. 7 – Dec. 30, 2018
David Plowden's Portraits of Work

Gallery Night Event: Oct. 19 - 5 to 9 p.m.
Featuring a Gallery Talk with the Artist at 7 p.m.

John M. Caffrey, conductor, Lehigh Valley RailroadDavid Plowden has spent his career capturing scenes of industry and amassing an unparalleled catalogue of images of work. Over the last 10 years, the Grohmann Museum has hosted exhibitions of his railroad, bridge architecture and steel photographs. His work is the subject of over two dozen books of industrial photography, from majestic lake boats to small town feed mills. However, no single book or exhibition has focused exclusively on his portraits of workers, until now.  

In close collaboration with the artist, the finest examples of these portraits have been selected for this special display of work. This exhibition features dozens of portraits of workers at their vocation. Included are subjects from a number of occupations, including farmers, mechanics, engineers, salespeople, shopkeepers and ship captains, to name a few. Visually appealing and psychologically engaging, patrons are sure to reflect on their own pursuits and those of their friends, family and neighbors while viewing David Plowden’s Portraits of Work.

Past Exhibitions


  • The Art and Mechanics of Animation: The J.J. Sedelmaier Collection


  • Masterworks from the Grohmann Museum: Celebrating 10 Years
  • Steel: The Cycle of Industry
  • Artists at Work: The Cedarburg Artists Guild
  • Artists at Work was featured on The Arts Page on Milwaukee PBS.


  • On the Job: Photography by Jim Seder
  • Milwaukee’s Industrial Landscapes: Paintings by Michael Newhall
  • Art of the North Shore Line


  • Third Annual Technical Communication Design Exhibition
  • Forge Work: New Photography by Michael Schultz
  • Carl Spitzweg in Milwaukee
  • Metal for Mettle: Historic Commemorative Medals Honoring Labor and Achievement
  • H.D. Tylle: Studies
  • The Art of the Milwaukee Road from the Milwaukee Road Collection of the Milwaukee Public Library


  • Second Annual Technical Communication Design Exhibition
  • Erich Mercker: Painter of Industry
  • Art Shay: Working
  • Trains that Passed in the Night: Railroad Photographs of O. Winston Link


  • Inaugural Technical Communication Design Exhibition
  • 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


  • Working Legacies: The Death and (After) Life of Post-Industrial Milwaukee
  • 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


  • American Steel: Works from the Collection of Tom and Lorie Annarella
  • A Focus on Figures
  • Stone


  • Physicians, Quacks and Alchemists