Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (January 22, 2021) — The Miller Art Museum is excited to announce the opening of a pop-up exhibition in conjunction with the Door County Library’s 2021 NEA Big Read activities, which invited artists to interpret through visual art the novel Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. The installation, which offers a selection of personal interpretations of the futuristic novel and a local rendition of the Museum of Civilization featured in the book, is scheduled to open on the Ruth Morton Miller Mezzanine on Saturday, January 30 and run through Monday, February 15, 2021.
St. John Mandel’s novel places its emphasis on the imaginary and utopian possibilities that could accompany disaster. In the novel, a Museum of Civilization serves as a fun collection of items for the young and nostalgic reminders of the past for the old. It is unofficially founded at the Severn City Airport when stranded airline passengers collect passports, electronics (cellphones, laptops), credit cards, newspapers, and other items rendered obsolete by civilization’s collapse after the Georgia flu outbreak. Survivors travel to the airport to trade or add items to the museum, reflect on the past, and educate children who were born after the pandemic. At one point the curator observes, “There seemed to be a limitless number of objects in the world that had no practical use but that people wanted to preserve.” (258) Thus, the museum serves its purpose by paying tribute to the pre-pandemic world, teaching children about humankind’s achievements and history, and offering survivors a haven for their nostalgia. What remains, not surprisingly in the wake of the flu devastating the world’s population, is art. It will endure as long as humanity does, and humanity will endure so long as art does. Because “survival is insufficient.” A desire for art and culture endures even among the direst of circumstances.
A virtual Museum of Civilization will also be developed by the community in the coming weeks. Individuals interested in learning how to participate in the Virtual Museum or how to add to the collection can join in a virtual Facebook Live session with Door County Library Director Tina Kakuske on Sat., January 30, 2021 at 10am.
The exhibition has been supported, in part, by Dennis and Bonnie Connolly. A series of virtual lectures, play readings, games, book discussions and more will continue through mid-February as a part of the community-wide celebration of the novel through the NEA Big Read. An interview and Q&A with the author will be held via Zoom and Facebook Live on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 p.m. The NEA Big Read: Door County 2021 is presented by the Door County Library and is sponsored by the Door County Library Foundation and The Friends of Door County Libraries. A complete list of events can be found at http://doorcountyreads.org or by clicking here.
Currently on view in the main galleries is Winter’s Spring: An Ältere Garten by Leslie Iwai, which, due to COVID, has been extended through Friday, February 26, 2021. The exhibit contemplates the re-emergence of innocence and childhood wonder that comes in the later decades of life and explores relationships and connection through a range of vibrantly colored sculptural creations, which unfold a joyful, metaphoric garden.
Featured on the Ruth Morton Miller Mezzanine is From Deep Within: Meditations of Wisconsin Abstractions,which examines the meditations behind the abstract work of the regional painters Cristian Andersson of Appleton, Alyssa Krause of Milwaukee, and Marjorie Mau of Green Bay; the goal is to expand the public’s understanding of abstract art. Also featured in the upper-level Gerhard CF Miller Gallery is a selection of large-scale watercolor and egg tempera paintings surveying the local winter landscape by Mr. Miller, museum founder.
Due to the ongoing risk of the coronavirus, the Miller Art Museum is open to the public by reservation. All visitors are required to wear a face mask or covering and maintain physical distance. For Museum Store purchases, only credit or debit card will be accepted and visitors will be encouraged to utilize provided hand sanitizer. Visitors are encouraged to review all safety guidelines before visiting.
The museum is located at 107 S. 4th Avenue inside the Door County Library in downtown Sturgeon Bay. Admission is free of charge but freewill donations are encouraged; an elevator is available to access galleries on the Ruth Morton Miller Mezzanine. For more information about current exhibitions or the museum, call (920) 746-0707 or visit www.millerartmuseum.org.