March 6 - June 7, 2015

Opening Reception Friday, March 6

6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Member Only Preview Begins at 5:30 p.m.

Featuring a Panel Discussion on
Adaptive Reuse at 7:00 p.m.

Built in the 1880s, the home designed for Elizabeth Plankinton on Milwaukee's Grand Avenue followed the leading trends of that decade, appointed with ornament from America's leading suppliers of interior decoration. This was a decade when Aesthetic principles, encapsulated in the mantra “art for art’s sake,” reached their height in this country, having sailed across the Atlantic with Oscar Wilde, spread nationwide with his lecture tour that stressed the value of artful decoration.

The focus of this decorative impulse was the home. Artists and designers, local and national, turned their attention to the seemingly prosaic: glass windows, ceramic tile, wallpapers, and even firebacks. The moral and physical loci of the aesthetic home was the Hearth, and it is at the center of this display of architectural salvage, an exhibition organized in partnership with the Milwaukee Housing Authority, which owns the collection.

The exhibition presents this collection of woodwork, metalwork, ceramics and glass that broadly outlines Aesthetic era principles and designs. The objects come from local firms like Matthews Bros. and also internationally-known companies like J & J.G. Low Art Tile of Massachusetts, Belcher Mosaic Glass of New Jersey, and Hollins & Minton of Stoke-on-Trent, England.

Tracing objects from their creation, to their private installation and subsequently to their deinstallation and public salvage, Villa Terrace, itself a repurposed lakeside mansion, explores the possibilities of repurposing old things for new ways of living.

Opening reception and panel discussion sponsored by the
Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee


Past Exhibitions