The 14th annual MCAD Art Sale unveils collections of paint-strewn papyruses, photographs, and graphic prints by students and recent graduates. Held every year the weekend before Thanksgiving, the art sale has generated more than $1,000,000 to support emerging artists and underprivileged smocks. The frenzy of opening-night festivities begin with complimentary beer, wine, and hors d'oeuvres at 6 p.m., followed by remarks and interpretive shadow puppets by MCAD President Jay Coogan. At the strike of 6:45 p.m., visitors nab up to one wall adornment every 12 seconds, while brushing eyes over landscapes of original opuses and opening their wallets faster than their neighboring collector. All attendees retrieve their tickets through will call only. Proceeds directly benefit individual artists or the MCAD's Art Sale Scholarship fund, and guests can purchase masterpieces with cash, check, credit card, and miniature portraits of President Andrew Jackson.
When the Minneapolis Institute of Arts first opened its doors in 1915, it was the product of several decades of arts advocacy. A group of 25 citizens formed the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts in 1883 with the goal of giving their community access to creative arts. More than a century later, this commitment to the community has taken the permanent collections from 800 works to close to 80,000 objects and has made the museum Minnesota's largest art educator.
The collections, divided into seven curatorial areas, encompass a period of 5,000 years and hail from every corner of the world. The Asian Art collection represents 17 different Asian cultures, and Arts of Africa and the Americas holds more than 3,000 pieces of sculpture, basketry, painting, and beadwork. Temporary exhibitions bring collections of artwork from other institutions. The museum's interactive learning stations supplement understanding of topics such as modernism or 17th-century European painting with animation, video, and audio recordings.
Originally the home of the Dakota and Ojibwe, Hennepin County began with the hopes and dreams of immigrants, New Englanders, and retired veterans. Why these entrepreneurs, farmers, laborers, craftsman, and vacationers decided to settle in what seemed to be a frigid, uninhabitable land is still a mystery, but their innovations and lineage are traced through the exhibits at Hennepin History Museum. The museum, located inside the historic George Christian mansion, hosts rotating exhibits and permanent collections that paint a picture of Midwestern life in the 19th and 20th centuries. From more recent decades, there are objects from Minneapolis Aquatennials and high-fashion clothes from downtown department stores such as Dayton's and Young-Quinlan. The Pillsbury Doughboy presides over it all, reminding guests of the importance of milling to the region's history.
Photographs, personal papers, and atlases round out the collection, whose contents are further illuminated during the museum’s frequent events. Experts and authors, for instance, deliver talks in the museum’s intimate fireside room, whose fireplace keeps guests warm and prevents them from huddling in the museum's historical bear-skin rugs. In another tucked-away area, researchers and amateur historians pore through the material in the library, which is open to visitors 5 days a week, and in the archives, which is open by appointment. They might find maps of the region from the start of the 20th Century or old pictures of homes in the neighborhood, all steeped in memories and history.
Who would build a castle in Minneapolis? In 1908, the Turnblads did just that on Park Avenue. The Swedish immigrant family constructed a mansion complete with detailed woodcarvings done by hand-selected artists and a barn/carriage house where the family housed some early automobiles and one horse that was starting to get really insecure about his job security. But the king and queen of this castle were benevolent. Just 21 years after the mansion's construction, the Turnblads gave over the house keys to the community for the organization that would become American Swedish Institute.
Today, the mansion and its grounds still stand as a tribute to Swedish and Nordic culture?both past and present. Guides lead tours into the historic home as well as through the more contemporary Nelson Cultural Center. Its 34,000 square feet includes a modern art gallery featuring rotating exhibits that showcase photographs, paintings, and other works of art from Sweden and her Nordic neighbors.
The American Swedish Institute also regularly hosts performing-arts presentations and educational programs, including Swedish language classes for all levels. But to truly get a taste of authentic Swedish culture, all one really needs to do is take a bite of the seasonal Nordic-inspired cuisine at Fika, the onsite cafe praised by such publications as the New York Times.
Other places to explore include a Museum shop with Nordic goods as well as a reading room filled with books from Swedish and Swedish American authors.
In 1879, a lumber baron named Thomas Barlow Walker built an extra room onto his house. He mounted his 20 favorite paintings on the room's walls and opened it to the public. This private collection transformed into a public gallery with the founding of Walker Art Center in 1927. Over the following decades, the center's staff amassed a collection focused on modern art, gathering works from Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and Alberto Giacometti. Today, this permanent collection has expanded to encompass more than 11,000 modern and contemporary paintings, sculptures, and photographs, more than 800 film pieces, and more than 1,200 artists' books.
In the whimsical multistory geometric helix of the Barnes building, seven cube-shaped galleries radiate from a central core on terrazzo floors and under lofted ceilings. Docents lead group tours through the galleries to see rotating exhibitions or play hide-and-seek with Jackson Pollock. Current exhibits have explored the contemporary still photography of Cindy Sherman, American avant-garde film from 1960 to 1973, and prints, paintings, and sculptures produced after 1989. Inside the museum's social spaces, docents also host artist talks, film screenings, and open houses.
Designed as a contemporary twist on old European opera houses, the center's McGuire Theater draws visitors into its intimate space for live dance, theater, and music performances as well as performance art. Museum exhibits and events also spill outside to a central square and the four quadrants, bordered by granite and evergreen hedges, of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. As visitors walk across its lawns, they can glimpse iconic modern sculptures, cross a 375-foot steel-and-wood footbridge, or watch staff teach plants to paint in the Cowles Conservatory.