OWEN J. GROMME
Owen J. Gromme was born in Fond
du Lac, Wisconsin on July 5, 1896. He was a hunter and outdoorsman
from early youth and his work reflects the great interest
he has always had in birds. He often painted exactly to scale,
using a magnifying glass if necessary to establish small details.
Mr. Gromme worked at the Milwaukee
Public Museum for 43 years, retiring from the post of Curator
of Birds and Mammals in January 1965. During these years he
went on several Museum expeditions, including one to Alaska,
and another to Hudson Bay country. He spent ten months in
Africa in 1928 and 1929, collecting material for the large
dioramic groups in the Museum; and making color notes and
background sketches to be used later in building the displays.
This was the Cudahy-Massee Milwaukee Expedition, and it marked
the beginning of Mr. Gromme's serious work in painting.
In September 1927 Mr. Gromme
married the former Anne Nielsen of Briggsville, Wisconsin,
who was one of his co-workers at the Museum at the time. Mr.
and Mrs. Gromme had two children, a son and a daughter.
One of Mr. Gromme's finest accomplishments
is his book Birds of Wisconsin, beautifully illustrated by
many of his paintings. It was published in the fall of 1963
by the University of Wisconsin Press in Madison, Wisconsin
and more than 10,000 copies were sold the first year. It received
reviews of high praise from all over the country and is now
in its second printing of 5,000.
Other publications which contain
Mr. Gromme's work are various books put out by the Milwaukee
Public Museum over a period of many years, several plates
in Birds of Colorado; the frontispiece for The Wild Turkey
by A. W. Schorger, published by the University of Oklahoma
Press; and the jacket and cover of Birds Will Come to You
by C. P. Fox, Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin, published
by Reilly Company.
Over the years, Mr. Gromme's
paintings have been widely exhibited. He had paintings in
a traveling exhibit of the Audubon Society; a show in Thomasville,
Georgia; several exhibits in Milwaukee and other places. Many
magazines and newspapers have carried articles about him with
reproductions of paintings.
Mr. Gromme was Curator Emeritus
of the Milwaukee Public Museum; a member of the Art Commission
of the City of Milwaukee; a judge for the past three years
in an International Decoy Contest held at the Mississippi
Valley Fair in Davenport, Iowa; an Advisor on the Film Committee
for Encyclopedia Britannica; and belonged to the Audubon Society;
American Ornithologists' Union; National Wildlife Society;
Wisconsin Society for Ornithologists; Wisconsin Academy of
Arts, Science and Letters; Izaak Walton League of America;
and the Seven Arts Society of Milwaukee.