Skip to content

Public Programs        

Public Program Schedule for
Starry Transit: An Installation by Martha Glowacki

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art has organized a number of lectures, presentations, and public events related to Starry Transit: An Installation by Martha Glowacki. All programs are free and open to the public.

Opening Celebration

Friday, September 9

5:30 pm - Exhibition Preview at Washburn Observatory
6:30 pm - Artist Lecture at Carson Gulley Commons
7:30 to 9 pm - Reception at Carson Gulley Commons
Admission is free

To mark the opening of Starry Transit: An Installation by Martha Glowacki, the artist will offer a preview of the exhibition followed by an illustrated lecture that will trace the development of the exhibition. A members' reception will immediately follow the lecture.

The preview will be held on site at Washburn Observatory, 1401 Observatory Drive. The lecture and reception will take place on the second floor of Carson Gulley Commons, located a short walk from the Observatory at 1515 Tripp Circle.


This series of free, informal lectures on Starry Transit provides an opportunity to share ideas about the exhibition in the unique atmosphere of Washburn Observatory (1401 Observatory Drive). The talks are led by scholars and specialists in several fields; each will discuss themes raised in Starry Transit in relation to their areas of expertise.

Wednesday, September 14
6:30 pm
Timothy Moermand, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Zoology, on bird behavior and migration

Sunday, September 18
1:00 pm
Observatory Hill
Archaeologist Dr. Robert Birmingham, on migratory bird symbolism in ancient Madison-area effigy mounds, including one located next to Washburn Observatory. Please note that the talk will take place outdoors; participants will gather at Washburn Observatory, then walk to the mound.

Friday, September 23
6:30 pm
Jill Casid, assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Art History, on Romancing the Instrument: Glowacki's Starry Transit and the History of Scientific Technologies.

Wednesday, September 28
6:30 pm
Martha Glowacki, artist and co-director, James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, on her installation.

Thursday, October 6
6:30 pm
Stephen T. Emlen, Jacob Gould Shurman Professor of Behavioral Ecology, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, on his research that demonstrated avian use of star patterns in migratory orientation.

Wednesday, October 19, 6:30 pm
Jim Lattis, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Astronomy, on Washburn Observatory including its origins, its key role in the development of twentieth-century astrophysics and the expansion of the university's expertise into space astronomy.

MMoCATalks: Collaborations

The following talks, organized in conjunction with Starry Transit, take place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum or Memorial Library, as noted.

Birds in the Library
Thursday, September 15
University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Library
728 State Street, Room 126
4:30 pm
Martha Glowacki will discuss her use of Memorial Library resources, including publications in the Department of Special Collections in developing Starry Transit. Sponsored by the Friends of Memorial Library.

Full Moon Walk: Listen and Look for Migratory Birds
Saturday, September 17
University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum
1207 Seminole Highway
6:30 pm
Evening hours are often the best time for listening to birds and other creatures. Enjoy a moonlit stroll through the Arboretum with an expert naturalist who will guide your listening experience. Co-sponsored by MMoCA and UW-Madison Arboretum.

Whooping Crane Migration
Thursday, September 29
University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum
1207 Seminole Highway
6:00 pm
The elegant whooping crane is on the verge of an extraordinary comeback after nearly becoming extinct due to human activities. Joan Garland, Education Outreach Coordinator at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, will discuss the ambitious reintroduction project currently underway to restore a migratory flock of whooping cranes to eastern North America. Co-sponsored by MMoCA, the International Crane Foundation, and the UW-Madison Arboretum.


Birds, Stars and the Words Between Them
Friday, September 30
Washburn Observatory
1407 Observatory Drive
7:30 pm
Snow Geese, a poem by local author Mary Mercier, was written specifically for inclusion in Natural Philosophies, Martha Glowacki's multipart wall relief on view in Starry Transit. Poets Gwen Ebert, Sandra Stark, and Timothy Walsh will join Mercier in offering an evening of poetry in celebration of the installation and its references to the natural world.


Of a Feather
Sunday, October 2
University of Wisconsin-Madison Cinematheque
4070 Vilas Hall
7:30 pm
Curated by Cecelia Condit and Carl Bogner, Of a Feather brings together eight short, independent film and video works by artists from the United States and Europe. Inspired by Condit's interest in birds as "a subject that I could watch endlessly and enjoy," Of a Feather is screened in conjunction with Starry Transit: An Installation by Martha Glowacki. Cecelia Condit will be present at the screening to introduce the program. Co-sponsored by MMoCA and UW-Cinematheque.

The Cinematheque is a coalition of UW-Madison academic departments and student film groups dedicated to showcasing films which would otherwise never reach Madison screens. For more information, please see:

Film List

The Canaries (Jerome Hill, 16mm, color/sound, 4 min, 1968)
A lesson in love-making. Hand-painted animation on film.

Vogels (Gerben Kruk, video, The Netherlands, color/sound, 1 min., 2003)
Images of birds and their names in split screen; the field guide as frenzy.

Disperse (Paul Dickinson, video, 15 min., 2004)
An early morning observation of crow social activity, recorded in Normal, Illinois.

Why Not a Sparrow (Cecelia Condit, video, color/sound, 12 min., 2002-05)
An eco-fable about a girl, a rare bird who discovers the pleasures and perils of another animal kingdom.

The Walking Pigeon (Guido van der Werve, director, performer; Casper Lambeck, cinematography, The Netherlands, video, color/sound, 1 min., 42 sec., 2001)
How to walk like a pigeon.

Chick Running (Sam Easterson, video, color/sound, 2 min., 2004)
Easterson's Animal Vegetable Video outfits animals and plants with helmet-mounted video cameras. Herein: a farmyard chick.

9 is a Secret (Vanessa Renwick, video, b&w/sound, 6 min., 2002)
A personal film recounting the filmmaker's being asked to help a terminally ill friend die, and the sudden appearance of crows in the immediate vicinity.

Of a Feather (Rob Yeo, 16mm on miniDV, color/sound, audio edit and mix by Rob Danielson, 10 min., 2005)
Generously alert and knowingly circumspect, Of a Feather unfurls a cycle of looks—that of birds and their watchers—and a fluttering of paces to measure the fleeting beauty and the precarious perch of the inhabitants and landscapes of Horicon Marsh.

Parrot Suite #1 (Anne Walsh, VIDEO, color/sound, 5 min., 2002)
A toy parrot performs musical scales and imitates several different voices.


Earth Partnership for Families: Migration!
Saturday, September 10
UW-Madison Arboretum
1207 Seminole Highway
1:00 pm
At this time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, many birds are preparing to take flight and migrate to lower latitudes. Some birds will fly thousands of miles while others will travel a shorter distance. Children and their families will learn the how and why of bird migration and how they can help migrating birds make their way south. Co-sponsored by MMoCA and University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.

Family Workshop: Stories in the Sky
Saturday, September 24
UW Space Place 2300 South Park Street
10:00 am
Stories in the Sky will introduce children to six constellations named in Greek mythology. At the workshop, participants will learn about Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Andromeda, Cetus, Perseus and Pegasus through a colorful star chart showing how the constellations are arranged in the sky. After hearing the stories, kids will complete their star chart by attaching images of the Greek figures featured in the myths. Co-sponsored by MMoCA and UW Space Place.

"Let's look" Family Guide
These fun, interactive kits help children think imaginatively about what they are seeing, while learning about art and artists. "Let's look" is designed for families to use together and is available free at the entrance to Starry Transit.

ArtZone After-School Tours and Workshops
ArtZone offers students enrolled in after-school programs at area neighborhood and community centers the opportunity to visit Starry Transit and make art inspired by its themes and subjects. Instruction, art materials, and transportation to Washburn Observatory are provided by the museum, with no charge to participants. Youth coordinators interested in arranging tours and workshops may contact the Education Department at 257.0158 or