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James Kieselburg - Milwaukee School of Engineering. Milwaukee, WI, US

James Kieselburg

Director | Milwaukee School of Engineering


James Kieselburg is an expert in museum collections and exhibition management, sociology of work, photography and the art of industry.






414ward: Two Old and new collide in an amazing collaboration of industry art at MSOE's Grohmann Museum


Education, Licensure and Certification (3)

M.S.: Anthropology and Museum Studies, University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee 1997

B.A.: Anthropology and Museum Studies, Beloit College 1993

Master's Certification: Museum Studies and Curation, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee & Milwaukee Public Museum 1996


James Kieselburg is director of the Grohmann Museum at MSOE. His areas of expertise include museum collections and exhibit management, the sociology of work, art of industry and graphic design. Kieselburg has spent the past 20+ years at the museums of Beloit College, UW-Milwaukee, Marquette University and MSOE.

He is the curator of several recent exhibitions including David Plowden’s Portraits of Work, The Art and Mechanics of Animation, and The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee. He has also published numerous books, essays and articles for the Grohmann Museum, The Society for Industrial Archeology, and Railroad Heritage magazine. His scholarly pursuits focus on museum design, the art of human industry, and the sociology of work.

Areas of Expertise (5)


Art of Industry

Museum Management and Leadership

Sociology of Work

Graphic Design

Affiliations (3)

  • Milwaukee Museum Consortium : Member
  • American Alliance of Museums (AAM) : Member
  • Wisconsin Federation of Museums (WFM) : Member


Media Appearances (5)

Old and new collide in an amazing collaboration of industry art at MSOE's Grohmann Museum

CBS58 Sunday Morning - WDJT-TV  tv


It's like taking a time machine and traveling to the past and future. The museum has a new temporary exhibit called "Patterns of Meaning: The Art of Industry by Cory Bonnet." It blends historic steel mill artifacts with painting and culture. It's on display through the end of April at the Grohmann Museum on the Campus of MSOE. There are dozens of pieces, each honoring the innovators and workers who built our modern world at the turn of the 20th century.

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Grohmann Museum’s Latest Exhibit Welds Together Art and Industry

Milwaukee Magazine  online


In a warehouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a ten-truckload collection of wooden casting patterns once used in steel mills in late-19th century and early-20th century. Painter Cory Bonnet began acquiring them in 2021, and since then has worked with a multidisciplinary group of artists to create works inspired by the industrial components. A fraction of this collection is featured in the Grohmann Museum’s latest exhibit, “Patterns of Meaning: The Art of Industry by Cory Bonnet,” which runs until April 28. It includes paintings, glassworks, ceramics and more that represent the staggering steel industry and human ingenuity.

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'Patterns of Meaning' at Grohmann Museum elevates hand built craftsmanship through wood casting patterns

WUWM 89.7FM  radio


The Milwaukee School of Engineering's Grohmann Museum specializes in merging art and industry, and its latest exhibit fully embodies this principle.

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‘Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee’ honors Milwaukee engineers and their inventions

88Nine Radio Milwaukee  


Kieselburg says he hopes the gallery inspires a sense of awe and wonder when looking at the exhibit. “A surprise like, ‘This really happened in Milwaukee? These things were invented here?'” said Kieselburg. “Like the typewriter, for instance, I don’t know that everybody knows that, the typewriter as we know it today they were invented in Milwaukee on, four blocks from the museum here. It was revolutionary, that had a global impact. For one machine made in Milwaukee, it had a ripple effect was just amazing.”

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A focus as big as all outdoors

Chicago Tribune  


The museum also mounted an exhibition of Plowden's railroad photographs last year, which was "perhaps our most successful exhibition to date," said museum director James Kieselburg II. "Not only do we admire David's unparalleled vision, but because our focus is on the art of industry and human achievement, we have a real affinity for his subjects: rural America, steam locomotives, steel mills, bridges and the like."

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Selected Publications (11)

Clark Hulings: The Art of Work and the Work of Art

Cambridge University Press

Kieselburg, J. (Editor and Foreword)



A Time of Toil and Triumph: Selections from the Shogren-Meyer Collection of American Art

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Kieselburg, J.


Exhibition Catalogue

Building STEAM: Creating a Culture of Art in an Engineering Education

ASEE Conference

Dwyer, M.; Kieselburg, J.; Marini, C.; Wikoff, K.



TWO EDMUNDS: Fitzgerald and Lewandowski—Their Mark on Milwaukee

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Kieselburg, J.


Exhibition Catalogue

ELECTRIC STEEL: Photographs by Michael Schultz

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Kieselburg, J. (Introduction/Foreword)


Exhibition Catalogue

Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee

Milwaukee County Historical Society

Kieselburg, J. (Editor and Foreword)


The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee tells the story of innovation and enterprise creation in Milwaukee during the Century of Progress–the hundred years starting after the conclusion of the US Civil War. It was a remarkable era. Milwaukee was one of the principal centers of industrial innovation in the United States and became known as “the Machine Shop of the World.”

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STEEL: The Cycle of Industry by David Plowden


Kieselburg, J., Plowden D.


The Scope of Early Twentieth-Century German Industrial Art: Works in the Grohmann Museum of Art


Kieselburg, J.

2017 Despite the vast social and economic changes the Industrial Revolution unleashed upon Europe, artists in the nineteenth century were initially slow to understand the potential of the industrial image. Klaus Herding, a scholar of German industrial art, rightly asks, “Why did the visual arts not spontaneously turn to large-scale industry as a new subject? Why did the so-called artistic ‘fathers’ of the twentieth century—Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat—hardly deal with industry…? Why did the so-called Materialist or Socialist painters, Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet, not depict factory workers but instead focused upon peasants and rural laborers?”

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Carl Spitzweg in Milwaukee


Kieselburg, J.

2015 Editor

Masterworks from the Grohmann Museum Collection


Kieselburg, J.

2014 Editor

The Art of Railroad Work

Center for Railroad Photography and Art

Kieselburg, J.

2014 Art of the railroad from the Grohmann Museum Collection