Frugal Family Fun: Milwaukee Art Museum

We went to the Milwaukee Art Museum for my birthday road trip ( It wasn’t our most frugal outing, but it was cheaper than a trip to Disney world! We saved ourselves between $9 and $19 in parking fees by parking a five-minute walk up the street from the museum. It was a pretty brisk day, but the walk along the shore with its views of the lake, museum, and breakwater light were striking.

The museum looked like the prow of a great white ship with cables reaching across the divided boulevard. The inner spaces of the central entrance hall were also soaring and featured a sculpture made out of flowers and a chandelier installation of Chihuli glass.

The Milwaukee Garden Club was doing an exhibition called Art in Bloom, reflecting the styles of different areas of the collection. These flower arrangements were located throughout the museum’s collections. Some of them were impressive, although I thought it was kind of weird that a bunch of people were oohing and aahing over these (sometimes crazy looking) flower creations and not sparing a glance for the works on the walls!

I found myself most drawn to the abstract and modern art. Some of it was so clever or so huge or made out of materials that just boggled the imagination. The huge piece of art featured here is made of hundreds of five-inch long hair combs with some or all of their teeth removed. I had to laugh when I saw, first hand, the “blue plank against wall” art object. It had a more pretentious title. I think it was the title that actually gave it the status of art!

The folk art was another area I enjoyed— people making art through the serendipity of everyday objects or materials that they had at hand: bottles, junk, paint, scrap wood, brush, downed trees—you name it.

I saw German Expressionist art for the first time. I can’t say I have much sympathy for the very vivid and often disturbing style. The only picture I saw that didn’t give me the creeps for some reason was an image of a woman holding a beautiful black cat. Her eyes and the cat’s eyes were so similar. You could tell she loved the cat. They were both lovely creatures.

The last thing we did was walk through the special Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit. It was very interesting and made me want to tour Taliesin in Spring Green sometime soon. Some of the elevation drawings on display were of places in Richland Center, Spring Green, and Baraboo that we had toured or driven past in the last couple of years. There were also photographs, home movies, video tours of Taliesin, furniture, and scale models of future utopian communities.

We’ve done a lot of activities that cost less, but this museum was worth the fees. It was a good day! Begonia

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