Two weeks ago I visited two major historic house museums in Milwaukee to find out about potential contributions to the database as well as possible object loans for an upcoming exhibition of Wisconsin decorative arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum (more on the exhibit later).
Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion
Most of the interiors and furnishings at the Pabst were designed by the Matthews Brothers Company, a Milwaukee manufacturer. In true Victorian fashion, the Matthews Bros. furnished the mansion in an array of historical styles, from the dark and heavy Venetian Renaissance in the music room to the gilded frills of the French Rococo in Mrs. Pabst’s parlor. The Pabst’s senior historian John Eastberg and curator Jodi Rich-Bartz are interested in contributing to the database and I’ll return in 2008 to photograph some of their furniture.
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Most of the objects at the Villa Terrace are European decorative arts collected by the Smith family, but they do have a major collection of works by Milwaukee metalworker Cyril Colnik. The Colnik collection was reinstalled this summer by Dan Naumann, a professional blacksmith as well as a Colnik expert. The collection is supplemented by an archival collection of Colnik’s drawings, a recent gift from the Kohler Foundation. I’ll be returning soon to work with curator Laurel Turner to document the Colnik collection.