Winter Night Photography at the Milwaukee Art Museum

May 21, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

One night in mid-December several years ago, we decided to head down to the Milwaukee lakefront to take photographs of the Christmas lights on Wisconsin Avenue.  We knew the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) was open later on Thursday nights, but we had no idea that the wings would be open.  What a sight!  When the winds are calm, the wings (the Burke Brise Soleil) will stay open.  There are sensors on the wings that detect wind speed.  If the wind gusts to 23 mph or more for 3 seconds, the wings automatically close.

There was some snow on the ground at that time, though it wasn't excessive.  You can imagine how cold it was after the 4:30 p.m. sunset on Lake Michigan's lakefront.  If I had to guess, I'd say that the temperature was in the 30s.  

Milwaukee Art MuseumMilwaukee Art MuseumThe MAM was open late on a Thursday night in December. No wind, so the wings were open. Time: 6:48pm CST Fortunately, the wings were open for the entire time we were downtown shooting (1-1/2 hours).  I did not know this at the time, of course, so I moved quickly and got as many shots as I could from as many angles as possible.  To get the second photograph, I had hustled up the stairs with my camera and tripod and around to the street-level entrance to the MAM on East Wisconsin Avenue.  I had to wait a bit for people to come and go from the museum, but not too long. 

What you don't see in this particular photograph is the full (or near full) moon.  The moon had just risen and wasn't that far above the the top of the museum when I framed my shots.  The light from the moon was far too bright for my photographs.  The lighting of the museum and the walkway is perfect here!

Winter Night at the MuseumWinter Night at the MuseumWinter Night at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

This is probably one of my favorite vantage points of the museum. In this photograph, I love how you can see the snow on one side of the walkway.  It adds to the overall feel of the image and suggests just how cold it was that night.  December Evening DowntownDecember Evening DowntownMid-December on East Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

After getting several more shots of the museum, we spent the next 45 minutes taking shots of the Christmas lights decorating East Wisconsin Avenue.  When we turned to go back towards the museum, the moon was much higher in the sky.  

The next photograph was a stroke of luck. I never would have gotten it if I had gone home early because my feet were cold.  The moon had risen higher in the sky so I no longer needed to frame the shot to crop out the moon.  The full moon was so bright, it created a beautiful blue backdrop of clouds behind the museum.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  It was absolutely breathtaking!   

Milwaukee Art Museum Under a Full MoonMilwaukee Art Museum Under a Full MoonThe clouds were bright and vivid thanks to a full moon behind thin clouds.

Even 8 minutes later, you can see the moon is rising further in the sky and the blue cloud backdrop is starting to fade.  I consider myself lucky that we started walking back towards the museum when we did or I'd have missed this spectacular effect.  Milwaukee Art Museum Under a Full MoonMilwaukee Art Museum Under a Full MoonThe moon was full on this cold December night at the MAM. Time: 7:59pm CST After stomping around in the cold for another 15 minutes, we finally made our way back down to the parking garage to our car.  Of course, I had to stop and take several more shots of the museum.  This was my last photograph of the evening.  Milwaukee Art MuseumMilwaukee Art MuseumThis was the last photograph of this shoot on a cold December night at the MAM. Time: 8:14pm CST


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All photographs on the Deb Beausoleil Photography website are the exclusive property of Deb Beausoleil.  The images may not be copied, reproduced, transmitted or altered without the written consent of Deb Beausoleil. 

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