Current Exhibition

Extended through Jan. 26, 2020!
Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee

Have you ever used a QWERTY keyboard? Ridden a motorcycle? Adjusted the thermostat? Been a passenger on a boat with an outboard motor? If answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you have a Milwaukee engineer/inventor to thank. See, all of these marvels, and many more, originated in Milwaukee. From household names like the Sawzall, to more arcane developments like DESCO’s diving apparatus, Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee seeks to highlight not only Milwaukee-born equipment and machinery, but also the engineers who created them.  

This exhibition features some of the most significant engineering marvels in Milwaukee’s history and will include photographs, documents, ephemera and a number of the actual machines highlighted in the book of the same name by engineer Thomas Fehring, who also serves as guest curator. Nash automobiles, Merkel motorcycles, Evinrude outboards, Johnson Controls environmental systems, Master Lock locks, and Stereo-Realist cameras—these are but a few of the Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee; a one-of-a-kind exhibit filled with one-of-a-kind inventions.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Jan. 17 - April 26, 2020
IRONBOAT: New Photography by Christopher Winters

Grand Opening Event-Gallery Talk with the Artist: Jan. 17, 5-9 p.m.
Gallery Night Open House: April 17, 5-9 p.m.

Organized around the release of the new book “Ironboat” by Christopher Winters, this exhibition is a wonderfully vibrant and powerful collection of photographs tracing the toil and travels of a number of ironboats on the Great Lakes Superior and Michigan. Most notably, it is an artistic and visual record of the Wilfred Sykes—the largest vessel on the Great Lakes at the time of her launch in 1949—and the Edward Ryerson—one of two remaining straightdeckers on the American Great Lakes. Following the success of his book “Centennial,” in which he chronicled life aboard the century-old steamer St. Mary's Challenger, reportedly the oldest operational freight ship in the world, Winters returns to a subject that has captivated him for decades.   

As Winters puts it, “Right, wrong, or indifferent, I trace my lifelong fascination with lakeboats to Longfellow’s blockbuster failure of a recounting of supernatural visions, handed down from Ojibwe shaman via Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, then percolated mellowly through six generations of elementary school teachers before it landed on my desk at St. John’s Lutheran in 1980. Duly behexed at the age of 9, the sight of an ironboat clearing the Canadian headlands at Whitefish Point or the Thunder Cape, with her Kabibonok’ka birch bark canoe silhouette projected onto Lake Superior’s wild stage of gods and monsters still fills me with child-like wonder.”

May 22 – Aug. 23, 2020
artWORK by The League of Milwaukee Artists

Grand Opening Event-Meet the Artists: May 22, 6-8 p.m.    

Sept. 4 – Dec. 20, 2020
Two Edmunds: Fitzgerald and Lewandowski, Their Mark on Milwaukee

Grand Opening Event: Sept. 4, 6-8 p.m.

Past Exhibitions

2019

    • Roll Up Your Sleeves: Photographs by Jim Brozek
    • Growing Place: A Visual Study of Urban Farming

2018

    • David Plowden's Portraits of Work
    • Wallace W. Abbey: A Life in Railroad Photography
    • The Art and Mechanics of Animation: The J.J. Sedelmaier Collection

2017

    • 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.

2016

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

2015

    • 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

2014

    • 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

2013

    • 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

2012

    • 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

2011

    • 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

2010

    • 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

2009

    • 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

2008

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

2007

    • Physicians, Quacks and Alchemists