Local Inspires Timeless Narratives

MCM recognizes and emphasizes the importance of knowing where “things” come from.  Any of the aforementioned pieces represents not only what we see, but a story all its own.  From farm cisterns and Lake Michigan buoys to beauty parlor chairs, a pinball machine, a phone booth and even a small airplane reclaimed from a local crash site, objects from the past have found a new home and inspire storytelling from one generation to the next. One of the most striking pieces outside the museum building is a Wisconsin log cabin originally built in 1838 that was moved piece by piece to MCM’s new location from less than 50(I think the location is more like 70 – I’d check on this figure or say “an hour away if that’s more accurate”) miles away. It has become the centerpiece of our Local Treasures initiative, and an example of how local history, stories, artifacts, philanthropists, antique collectors, artists and contractors all came together in one small but unique exhibition.

Lining the walls in the Art Studio are murals created with more than 14,000 individually designed bottle caps by local elementary school children. Students from Shabazz City High School in Madison undertook service-learning projects to design and install the large-scale mosaics using the bottle caps. In fact, through collaborations with elementary schools, UW-Madison and local artists, everything from the exhibits themselves to nature- and place-themed tiling on the bathroom walls were created from materials found right here in the museum and surrounding areas. The recurring narrative is sense of place, storytelling and connection.

Kid-made bathroom tiles

Another very different example of sense of place and storytelling as it relates to MCM’s projects defers to the UW campus as a source of inspiration.  In conjunction with the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, MCM introduced more than 700 local students to research in nanotechnology that is being conducted right here in Madison, fusing art and science and inspiring new ways of self-expression. Children have a better understanding of what is happening in their own community and got to be a part of it through a creative partnership that resulted in a beautiful “nano window” at the museum.

The connection between MCM, the community and materials used from the surrounding area inspires stories to be passed on from one generation of Wisconsinites to the next.