The Grohmann Museum at the Milwaukee School of Engineering recently opened its most ambitious exhibit yet. “Magnficent Machines of Milwaukee,” on view through Dec. 22, honors Milwaukee’s engineering and manufacturing history with artifacts that range from diving apparatus to vintage padlocks.
Museum Director James Kieselburg was inspired to create the exhibit after reading a copy of Thomas Fehring’s 2017 book The Magnicent Machines of Milwaukee and the Engineers Who Created Them. “The genesis of this exhibit was basically to distill this book and put it in three dimensions,” says Kieselburg.
Visitors can view a Merkel motorcycle from 1905, or clack away at a typewriter. (The first one was invented in Milwaukee, after all.) Kieselburg worked with Fehring to draft a “wish list” of artifacts a year ago. Even though “engineering” is part of the host college’s name, the show is a bit of a stretch in mission for the Grohmann.
“Being a museum of the art of industry, we rarely have gone this far afield from the actual art,” Kieselburg says. “Not that these engineering marvels can’t be considered art in and of themselves, but it’s the first real artifactual-based exhibition that we’ve put together.”
WHEN: On view through Dec. 22
COST: Museum admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and free for children under 12.
WHERE: The Grohmann Museum at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (1000 N. Broadway)