If you weren’t sure whether large quantities of distilled beverages, big crowds, and invaluable contemporary artworks would make a good mix, a celebration in February pretty much settled the issue. By many reports, the martini-themed rental event at the Milwaukee Art Museum’s stunning Calatrava addition was about as bad as you can imagine:
People threw up, passed out, were injured, got into altercations and climbed onto sculptures at Martinifest, a semi-formal event organized by Clear Channel Radio and held at the museum Feb. 11, according to several people who attended or worked at the event.
It seems the crowd was a bit larger than planned, the tickets were cheaper than they should have been, and the controls on drinking were lacking altogether.
Corporate rentals are an increasingly important revenue stream for museums and other cultural facilities, along with weddings, parties, and special events. Not only do they generate discretionary cash, but many argue that they draw new faces into the spaces, who may decide to return. In Milwaukee, the martini event certainly made an impression on at least one new patron:
“We were sardined in,” said Collins, a first-time museum visitor. “People, boy, they wanted their martinis.”
See how art can bring a community together?