European Work Art
Another favorite stop for groups is the Grohmann Museum. Eckhart Grohmann, a regent with the Milwaukee School of Engineering and local businessman, donated his “Man at Work” art collection to the school in 2001. He then donated the money to buy, renovate and operate the museum, which opened in October 2007.
Although it is an art museum, the Grohmann experience is not about art movements, techniques or even the artists themselves, but rather the subject matter of each piece.
“We like to call it the ‘art of human achievement,’” said Ann Rice, coordinator of visitor services for the museum.
Grohmann’s mostly European collection includes more than 900 paintings and sculptures dating from 1580 to the present that depict the evolution of human work and achievement. Displayed on three floors, galleries are broken into different types of work, such as iron and steel, agriculture and skilled trades, Rice said.
The museum’s rooftop sculpture garden features a dozen nine-foot-tall bronze statues, each representing a different worker, that are replicas of smaller pieces in the permanent collection.
Groups can opt for self-guided or docent-led tours, Rice said. The museum has accommodated as many as 150 people by splitting everyone into smaller tours staggered throughout the museum.
“People feel comfortable in here. People understand it,” Rice said. “Many people feel uncomfortable in an art museum, like they should know what they’re looking at. Here, they rarely leave without telling us a story about how their father used to do that [work] or about something that resonated with them.”