The Milwaukee Public Library's Board of Trustees has green-lighted discussions between the library and the Grohmann Museum, 1000 N. Broadway, at Milwaukee School of Engineering, that could bring $1 million to MPL in exchange for loaning Carl Spitzweg's painting, "The Bookworm," to the museum permanently.
If the deal is sealed, MPL cardholders would gain free access to the museum during specified times.
The motion approved by the board reads: "The library staff and the city attorney’s office will formally enter into negotiations with the Grohmann Museum to provide greater access and resources to support the conservation of "The Bookworm." The framework for the negotiations, as directed by the Board of Trustees, include an institutional loan agreement granting free access to Milwaukee Public Library cardholders; the Grohmann will maintain, protect, preserve and secure the painting; the Grohmann and MPL will work together on a display sharing the history of the painting, its provenance and its impact; and, finally a gift of $1 million will be made to MPL."
The 1851 oil painting (on canvas) by the German artist -- one of three versions of the same subject -- was gifted in a bequest to MPL by René Von Schleinitz in 1972. Other than a few stints away on loan, the painting has been a fixture in the library's Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room.
The first version of the painting, made in 1850, is in the collection of the Museum Georg Schäfer in Schweinfurt. A third version was made in 1884.
The Grohmann Museum, founded with the collection of Milwaukee industrialist, art collector and MSOE benefactor Dr. Eckhart Grohmann, boasts more than 1,000 paintings and sculptures from 1580 to the present. The collection, called "Man at Work," focuses on industrial scenes and other images of working people laboring in a variety of ways.
The MPL painting would join other works by the artist in a Carl Spitzweg Gallery.
Any final deal will have to be approved by the library's board of trustees.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.