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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'Summer of CHINA' Brings Treasures to Milwaukee Art Museum

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As part of its 10th anniversary celebration of the Quadracci Pavilion designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) opens a series of exhibitions under the title "Summer of CHINA." Beginning June 11, five exhibitions, including "The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures From the Forbidden City," will immerse Milwaukeeans in 3,000 years of Chinese art and culture.

"Private Paradise" refers to the Palace Garden built in Beijing for the retirement of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795). The garden, intended to embody all of the universe's attributes, included 27 buildings in a 2-acre complex. The MAM will attempt to replicate that atmosphere when visitors enter the Baker/Rowland Galleries through an intricate, life-size gate.

The galleries will also present the tremendous conservation efforts of the World Monuments Fund, an organization that distributes money, resources and time to restore art and architecture in peril. Conservation efforts for the treasures from the emperor's garden, some of which have remained out of view for 200 years, started in 2001 and will be completed by 2019.

MAM curator Laurie Winters relates a story about the emperor's throne that explains the value of this conservation effort. The Yanghe Jingshe throne was carved with an 18th-century bamboo technique that had been lost to 21st-century Beijing. A call went out for a craftsman who could reproduce this ancient art form and restore the throne to its original splendor. In the process, the craftsman explained his technique to conservationists, so it will be preserved for future generations.

The "Summer of CHINA" exhibitions, another milestone in MAM's rising global status, open Friday, June 11. For a list of related special programming, visit www.mam.org.

Art Happenings


"Marshall Arts Event"

Marshall Building

207 E. Buffalo St.

Peruse more than 20 art venues on five floors of the historic Marshall Building during this quarterly event 5-9 p.m. Friday, June 3, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, June 4.

"150 Years of Wisconsin Art"

Peltz Gallery

1119 E. Knapp St.

Peltz Gallery honors Wisconsin artists by exhibiting Warrington Colescott's rediscovered watercolor portraits. Join Cissy Peltz 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 3. Colescott visits the gallery with wife Frances Myers 1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 4.

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