From remote natural wonder to “Waterpark Capital of the World,” Wisconsin Dells has reigned supreme as the state’s premier tourist destination for nearly 160 years. The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) is pleased to present Among the Wonders of the Dells: Photography, Place, Tourism featuring more than 100 photographs from eight artists recounting the fascinating history and transformation of Wisconsin Dells. The exhibition opens with a party on Saturday, June 1 and is on view through September 8, 2019.
Among the Wonders of the Dells will include the earliest surviving photographs of the Dells dating back to the 1860s takenby eccentric river captain Leroy J. Gates. A collection of original panoramas, stereoviews, and photographs by Henry Hamilton “H. H.” Bennett present the most treasured bodies of nineteenth-century photography of the Dells. The exhibition also includes photographs by H. H. Bennett Studio, John A. Trumble, and Dennis Darmek, who collectively captured the tourist boom of the twentieth century and the transition to waterpark wonder.
In 2018, MOWA commissioned three contemporary artists to spend the year photographing the latest incarnation of the Dells. Kevin J. Miyazaki set up in H. H. Bennett’s historic studio, soliciting passersby to have their portrait taken, and in the process creating a visual cross-section of the contemporary Dells composed of vacationing families, summer workers on J-1 visas, and tourists from all corners of the world. Mark Brautigam trained his camera on the sites where humanity and nature overlap, shifting the emphasis between the two in his poetic images. As a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Tom Jones is acutely attuned to the discrepancy between tourist-oriented representations of Native Americans and the reality of Ho-Chunk history and material culture. His photographs document the present state of the appropriation and distortion of Native imagery at the Dells, a practice that began with the birth of the tourist industry in the nineteenth century.
The exhibition and accompanying catalogue will highlight historical and contemporary themes of place, travel, family vacation, tourism, and Ho-Chunk Nation influence and culture. Additional information at www.wisconsinart.org/dells
Exhibition Partner: Wisconsin Historical Society
Supported by Travel Wisconsin, Dennis Rocheleau, Pick Heaters, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Wisconsin Arts Board, James and Karen Hyde
Jessica Wildes, Director of Communications | Marketing
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Opening Party: Among the Wonders of the Dells
Saturday, June 1 | 10:30–5:00
Kick off the summer with a celebration of Wisconsin Dells. Meet the exhibition’s contemporary photographers and enjoy live music, light bites, and a cash bar. Free with Membership
Saturday, June 8 | 2:00–3:00
Mark Brautigam, Tom Jones, and Kevin J. Miyazaki share their year-long experiences photographing the natural and manufactured wonders of the Dells. Learn about their creative processes and hear personal stories about documenting Wisconsin’s top tourist destination. Free with Membership
How the Dells Became the Dells
Thursday, June 20 | 6:30–7:30
Join Wisconsin historian John Gurda as he unites the Dells past and present through the biographies of three decisive figures who made the Dells a destination: Byron Kilbourn by building the railroad, H.H. Bennett by artfully promoting the scenic wonders, and Tommy Bartlett by ushering in the modern period.
Free with Membership
Tuesday, July 2 | 10:30–11:30
Thursday, August 8 | 6:30–7:30
Take a deep dive into the wonders of the Dells with Curator Tyler Friedman. Free with Membership
Food and Travel Photography
Thursday, July 11 | 6:30–7:30
Photographer Kevin J. Miyazaki discusses the fine art of travel and food photography, and his experiences shooting for the New York Times, Bon Appétit, National Geographic, and other nationally-acclaimed publications. Free with Membership
Ho-Chunk History in the Dells
Saturday, July 20 | 2:00–3:00
Join Amy Lonetree, associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for a look at Ho-Chunk culture. As a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a scholar of Indigenous history, Lonetree has both an insider’s perspective and intellectual insight on the historical use of Ho-Chunk culture to attract tourists to the Dells. Free with Membership
Road Trip to the Dells
Saturday, August 10 | 8:00–5:00
Join photographer Tom Jones on a day trip to Wisconsin Dells. Hop on the bus at MOWA and embark on a journey to the historic H.H. Bennett Studio. Meet Dave Rambow, historic site coordinator and wet plate photographer, and look into the late 1800s through three-dimensional stereoscopic views. Then try out the iconic Leap to Stand Rock yourself. Experience overlooked gems of the Dells and capture it all with your own camera. Learn more and register.
Photographing Urban Landscapes
Saturday, August 24 | 10:00–12:30
Hit the streets of Milwaukee with photographer Mark Brautigam. Wander about downtown with your camera at the ready as Brautigam shares tips for catching the perfect shot of the city. Learn more and register
Available in the MOWA Shop in July