By coincidence I left for a short vacation the morning after the September 11, 2001 twin towers attack. One of the places we visited was Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Milwaukee. Built in 1924 in Italian Renaissance style it displays some of the historic ironwork from the Milwaukee studio of master blacksmith Cyril Colnik. I think the collection was well worth seeing as was the recently constructed Neptune Gate at the garden entrance. http://www.villaterracemuseum.org/collections.html
The next day we visited the Milwaukee School of Engineering, MSOE, where Lauren was working on her engineering degree. She introduced us to a recently donated art collection which was being temporarily stored in the student union. This was the fabulous Grohmann collection. I later was given a copy of the book, Man at Work: 400 Years in Paintings and Bronzes: Labor and the Evolution of Industry in Art, which beautifully describes the art work. The collection now has new museum quarters which I have not yet visited.
From the books rear cover: “This volume presents the Eckhart G. Grohmann Collection at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. The collection consists of more than 400 paintings and bronzes, depicting work and industry. It comprises a time span of 400 years and allows a comprehensive insight into the history of individual labor, trades, industry and technology as interpreted by a large variety of artists in many countries. This volume is directed to those with an interest in the historical evolution of human work.” It is also available on a CD. A significant portion of the art is related to iron production and blacksmithing.
I recommend that artists and blacksmiths put these museums on their “points of interest” list when they are traveling in the area.