May 27, 2012


MAM has a number of meanings, but for this blog post we'll focus on two: 1) "mam" is Dutch for "mom", like in Gabri's mom Marianne who returned to Holland this Wednesday after spending three weeks with us, and 2) MAM is the acronym for the Milwaukee Art Museum. Both converged when we spent a day with Marianne at the MAM, and what better time to do that than during Mother's Day weekend. Gabriella clearly inherited the artistry from her mom, who in the last 10 years actually earned a degree in painting and one in ceramics from an art college in Belgium. So a visit to a good art museum is one of her favorite treats. The MAM definitely met the criteria: their collection is very good, but the new wing designed by Calatrava alone is worth the one hour drive.

The white concrete wing, or Quadracci Pavilion, was added in 2001, and contains the signature Calatrava white spines that are placed under an angle, like the three bridges he designed close by Amsterdam Airport. One of the MAM spines is the axis for a movable wing-like structure that opens up daily, and folds back over the tall, arched and airy structure at night or during high winds. When we arrived the wings were out in their full, 70 meters spanning glory, but with winds picking up over Lake Michigan we could witness them closing as well.

Inside the Quadracci Pavillion is perhaps even more spectacular than the outside wings that have quickly become the symbol of the city of Milwaukee. The huge arched atrium with windows overlooking the lake can compete with any other museum GABROEN visited in the world, so we should become a frequent visitor.
The collection on the museum's entire upper floor is based on the donation from one woman, and spans hundreds of mainly 20th century works from some very well known artists. That must have been some wealthy Milwaukee woman. And she actually not only had money, lots of it, but also good taste, and lots of it.

Next to the standard collection, there also was an awesome exhibit from New York artist Tara Donovan. She uses everyday materials like styrofoam cups, toothpicks or pencils and turns them into huge pieces of art. Such as the 30 feet wide and 15 feet high relief sculpture "Haze" made from ......... plastic drinking straws. You don't believe it until you see it up close with your own eyes. Or the coral like structure "Bluffs" in the picture below, made from just buttons and glue.

So if you ever get to the Midwest, make sure you include MAM on your trip. It's well worth it. Well worth for artsy mom and artsy daughter as well - they were in their happy element.

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