Before curating Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel’s lavish, modern galleries, Samantha Timm had a different expertise – 19th-century British art. She spent nearly a decade working in museums and galleries around the world, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the York Art Gallery in England.
Working in a hotel has its differences from her past jobs. At Saint Kate, Timm considers the entire visitor experience, from the room – including stays in the artist-designed Canvas rooms – to dining and imbibing at the hotel’s restaurants and bars. She has five feature exhibitions under her purview and oversees the hotel’s permanent collection and coordination with the Museum of Wisconsin Art to bring its lobby-level gallery, MoWA | DTN, to life. While ensuring that all the artwork fits Saint Kate’s brand, she looks especially for work that plays with unusual mediums. “My art is facilitating what we do here,” Timm says. “I invite our artists to use our space as a platform.”
Sometimes that means getting collaborative with the artists. Right now, in the lobby, there’s a display showcasing “A Cabinet of Curiosities” by a pair of local artists called The Wondermakers (up through April 3). It features dozens of intricate textiles. Timm spent hours hanging pieces from the ceiling with fishing line to give it the look of a whimsical constellation.
“I have this constant sense of wonder about all the pieces that we have, and about all the shows that are on display,” Timm says. “I try to share that with my guests.”
You can join Timm on one of her Champagne Art Tours, usually offered on Fridays and Saturdays. With a glass of bubbly in hand, she whisks you around the hotel’s exhibits and helps you understand and engage with the art.