WVA SE Chapter Meets New MAM Director

by Patricia Obletz

WVA SE Chapter hosted a reception after its November meeting at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts to introduce Daniel T. Keegan, who became the director of Milwaukee Art Museum last February, as one of the most remarkable pivotal years in history began.

Keegan used his Master of Fine Art degree to grow into a master museum maven: he increased endowments, attendance and memberships for California’s San Jose Museum of Art (2000-07), and the Kansas City, MO., Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (1997-00). Prior to these successes, he spent 23 years in higher education administration and teaching.

After chapter chair Virgi Driscoll introduced Dan Keegan to WVA members, he spoke of his childhood in Green Bay, WI., his smile wry as he mentioned embracing his return to snowy winters. In an easy-going, candid way, he addressed the challenges of museums in hard times. And, he added, according to the American Association of Museums, more people went to museums than to amateur and professional athletic competitions last year.

But, he said, people went to museums for the experience of it rather than specifically to see art. That’s why his plans for MAM include making their experience all about art by expanding family-friendly weekends and interactive exhibitions.

Keegan said that good art is everywhere, not just in New York City and Chicago, and that MAM will feature Wisconsin artists, including the upcoming drawing and print show of JoAnna Poehlmann’s work.

The museum experience needs to engage people at the point of arrival, Keegan said, which is why he had the ticket/reception desk moved to the entryway. He said that museums also have to offer adequate, comfortable seating in galleries, convenient restrooms, and stimulating and fun exhibitions.

Keegan is taking the MAM into the future and it looks like he’ll make it a rewarding and enlightening adventure as our culture struggles for balance on the rough road ahead.