GLAM/Case studies/Milwaukee Arts Board

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The Milwaukee Arts Board's Public Art Subcommittee, in collaboration with WikiProject Public Art, undertook a project to create a comprehensive listing of the city’s public sculpture and articles about individual sculptures, the first such inventory and narrative description of a municipal collection that is more than 125 years old. The Milwaukee Arts Board described the project as the first effort organized at the municipal level to “encourage citizens to take ownership of the artwork surrounding them by sharing information through this technology.”

In January 2010, Jennifer Geigel Mikulay, cofounder of Wikiproject Public Art, met with members of the Milwaukee Arts Board's Public Art Subcommittee to share information about the success of students documenting public art in Indianapolis. Soon thereafter, the Milwaukee Arts Board directed public art funding to “mobilize people of all ages to document public sculpture” and to support a project coordinator, Claudia Arzeno Mooney. Through May 2011, project participants, including Mooney and students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, created 57 articles about individual public artworks in Milwaukee. Mikulay created a comprehensive, geographically organized list of artworks on Wikipedia.

Notably, three of Milwaukee’s sculptures have been featured on Wikipedia’s front page in the “Did You Know?” section: Helaine Blumenfeld’s Family Gerald Sawyer’s Bronze Fonz and James H. Mahoney’s statue of Henry Bergh. The project utilized a series of templates and content guides accessible through WikiProject Public Art along with a curriculum available for high school and college educators. As of May 2011, the articles have been accessed more than 70,000 times.

See WikiProject Public Art Milwaukee for a list of sculpture ideas in Milwaukee and recently developed articles.