Barbara (Mackey) Kaerwer
Kaerwer, Barbara Mackey Art historian, lecturer and collector, passed away March 13 after a recent bout with cancer. She was 94 years old. Barbara was preceded in death by her husband, Howard E. "Bud" Kaerwer, in 1993, and her sister, Katherine Mackey Dalgety, in 2007. She and Bud were married for more than 50 years and shared passions for traveling, gardening, reading, boxer dogs and calico cats. Survivors include sister-in-law Elizabeth Mason, nieces Kathy Miehls, Julie Beja, Lisa Ganfield, Lynn Shay, and several great nieces and nephews. Barbara was born in 1921 in Beloit, Wis., and grew up there. She attended the University of Wisconsin, and received a bachelor's degree in English literature and political science. After earning a degree in labor relations at Marquette University, she held positions in the industrial relations departments of Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company and 3M Company. An extended stay in Europe in 1953 motivated her to study the cultural forces that shaped Europe and the resultant generation of artistic styles. She was enrolled in the doctoral program of the Art History Department of the University of Minnesota for the next four years. From 1956 to 1971, she served on the education staff of The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA). Barbara began as a publicity secretary and editorial assistant. Self-described as having "boundless energy," she quickly rose to become co-chair of the education department and senior lecturer. In the mid-1960s, she started the member's tour program, which offered art and architecture trips to destinations in the United States, Europe and much of Asia. She created and directed the Student Volunteer Program, a summer course for high school students, which combined art history lectures with volunteer work at the museum. Barbara remembered her students, and they often remembered her and the program with great fondness. Additionally, she and her husband donated numerous works of art to the MIA, and Barbara served on museum's Print and Drawing Council board of directors for 24 years. In 1971, she became a freelance art historian and lectured at venues throughout the Twin Cities, including University of Minnesota Continuing Education, Minnetonka Center of Arts, Woman's Club of Minneapolis, and the American Association of University Women. Her classes frequently filled, and she was described as dedicated, intelligent, filled with dash and savvy, enthusiastic, articulate and knowledgeable. Barbara was a loyal and generous alumna of the University of Wisconsin. She served on the Council of the university's Elvehjem (later renamed Chazen) Museum of Art from 1984 to her death. Works from her vast collection of German Expressionist prints, and fine and decorative works products by the Vienna Secession and Wiener Werkstätte in Austria were shown in four exhibitions between 1972 and 2003. She donated nearly 400 pieces of decorative and fine art to the Chazen, which will strengthen its collection and function as a teaching tool. In addition, Barbara contributed 1,000 books, exhibition catalogs and other printed materials to the university's Kohler Art Library. Barbara and Bud, a turf agronomist, took an active interest in the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. She was the first president of the Friends of the Andersen Horticultural Library. Barbara was an active volunteer and donated to the Arboretum's art collection, library and research of ground cover plants. The Kaerwers built a home in Eden Prairie in 1949 and lived there for decades. In 2012, Barbara donated the house and surrounding acreage to the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District. The house has been extensively remodeled and now serves as the district headquarters and education center. Memorials are suggested to the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and The Minneapolis Institute of Art. A private memorial service will be held.
Published on April 3, 2016
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