The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, with its encyclopedic collection of over 83,000 objects spanning 5,000 years, represents the highest-level of artistic work from across the globe. Designed by the preeminent architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, the museum opened in 1915 and expanded in 1974, with an addition by architect Kenzo Tange. Further expansion proved necessary, and in 2006 a new wing, designed by Michael Graves, brought an additional thirty-four galleries to the museum. With more than a half-million people visiting each year, and noteworthy public programs and education classes, award-winning interactive media programs, and free general admission, the museum serves as one of the largest arts educators in the state.
Internationally renowned, the Walker Art Center has long been known for innovative presentations and acclaimed contemporary art collections. Founded in 1879 by Thomas Barlow Walker, a local lumber baron, the museum opened in its present locale in 1927. The award-winning building by Edward Larrabee Barnes opened in 1971, and was expanded in 1984. With the addition of the 1988 sculpture garden, containing over 40 contemporary works, and a further building expansion in 1992, the museum truly became a landmark for the arts in Minnesota. Nearly doubling the museum in size, the Herzog & de Meuron 2005 addition enhanced the visitor experience for the over half a million individuals who visit each year.
On the bank of the Mississippi River, the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum opened in 1993, and was expanded by Gehry in 2011. Located on the University of Minnesota campus, the Weisman Art Museum houses over 17,000 works of art, including American modernism, ceramics, Mimbres pottery, and Korean furniture. Other museums, including numerous collegiate art galleries, support the vibrant cultural scene of the region. The Minnesota Museum of American Art, in its new home within the Pioneer Endicott building located in downtown St. Paul, offers the community a new way to engage with the museum’s collection via their gathering space known as the “Project Space.” The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis is dedicated to all forms of Russian art and artifacts and is the only North American museum of its kind. Thrivent Financial’s Collection of Religious Art, located in their corporate headquarters in downtown Minneapolis, holds over 800 prints and drawings, with particular strength in the work of the Old Masters. In addition, both Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to numerous local galleries, including the Soap Factory, Soo Visual Arts Center, and Midway Contemporary Art. Other cultural attractions include a strong theater community, of which the Guthrie Theater is central, and a vibrant music scene. The Twin Cities also include many great restaurants, a variety of historical and significant architecture, two zoos, and some of the best public parks in the country.