An engineering art museum may seem like a dichotomy, but the Grohmann Museum, presented by the UW-Milwaukee School of Engineering, is a fascinating and excellent blend of the two. This surprisingly large museum is elegantly designed and the collection presented well. Admire the gorgeous floor mosaic and atrium mural high above, then head wind your way through four floors of artwork. The floors are divided into sections based on the industry. Most of the artwork is paintings, but there are some excellent bronze sculptures and a few other unique pieces.
Get a glimpse into a world many of us rarely see. Men pouring liquid metals into ingot molds, engineers building bridges, miners with candles on their heads, peasants harvesting potatoes, the alchemist in his lab, workers high up on a skyscraper, and laceworkers in their shops have all been subjects of an artist’s eye. There are few women featured in the heavy industry on the first to two (save for a few wives demurely visiting their men in the shops). But as the work becomes less industrialized and urban, we see woman and men working side by side stomping grapes, harvesting crops and working in shops.
The Grohmann museum offers a few other special treats. There is a changing show, often photography, on the main floor. During nice weather, the rooftop sculpture garden is open. There is also a small gallery devoted to the amusing paintings of artist Carl Spitzweg.
This is an absolutely fascinating museum and a must-see. For those of you tired of carefully posed Persons of Importance filling most museums, these images of the common worker making the literal cogs of society are a refreshing and welcome change.