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Local artists and archivists want you to get a closer view of UW-Milwaukee’s Digital Collections

There are more than 140,000 documents in the UW-Milwaukee Libraries’ Digital Collections: rare photographs of prominent Milwaukeeans, books by local authors that have long since gone out of print, maps used at the Treaty of Versailles. Many of the documents – available to the public online, free of charge – are drawn from the American Geographical Society Library, which celebrates its 40th anniversary at UWM this year.

To highlight the documents, UWM archivists have teamed up with 14 local artists from the Peck School of the Arts and RedLine Community Art Studio to create artworks inspired by the university’s collections. The project – titled “Look Here!” – culminates with an exhibition at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum now through Sept. 16.

According to Ann Hanlon, head of digital collections and initiatives, the artists have transformed maps, books, photographs and other archival documents into new artworks that take on a deeper meaning. “What we wanted to do was see what artists could do with [our collections] and learn from them, because those are the people who are really pushing the edges,” she says.

For example, intermedia artists Marc Tasman and Clayton Haggarty brought old photographs to life, blowing up images captured by Polish-American photographer Roman Kwasniewski (1886-1980) into life-size cutouts that document the changes that took place in Milwaukee over Kwasniewski’s lifetime, shedding light on the lives of immigrants living on Milwaukee’s South Side. “We wanted to draw attention to those cultural shifts that we saw in American values,” Tasman says.

The works featured in the exhibition span genres, from painting to performance art. Some artists even took inspiration from the exhibition venue itself, incorporating the museum’s Italian Renaissance interior into their work.

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Admission to the museum exhibition – located at 2220 N. Terrace Ave. – is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and free to UWM students and staff.

FREE
“Look here!” events at the Villa Terrace Museum

Milwaukee Digital

JULY 5

Artists join Ann Hanlon and Abigail Nye, head of UWM Archives, to talk about their work.

Curatorial Walk-Through

JULY 26

A Villa Terrace curator leads a tour of the show.

Maps and Artifacts

AUG. 1 

Marcy Bidney, curator of the American Geographical Society Library, speaks with artists about their “Look Here!” projects.


“Red, White and Boom” appears in the July 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning July 2nd, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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