A Trip to the Twin Cities

Minnesota Museum of American Art

                                            Minnesota Museum of American Art

Sue Hamburge, Docent, Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) (March, 2019)

Should you find yourself traveling to Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, you won’t lack opportunities to indulge your love of the art in each city. Minneapolis is the home of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), Walker Art Center, and American Swedish Institute to name a few. St. Paul is the home of the ‘new-old’ Minnesota Museum of American Art.

My fellow docents at Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) and I visited the new museum shortly after its re-opening in the fall of 2018. To the delight of all Twin Cities art lovers, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, or the M, as the museum is now known, is a worthy stop on any Twin Cities art itinerary. Over 117 years old, formerly located in 13 different places, under 7 different names, the M is now located on the first floor of downtown St. Paul’s historic Pioneer Endicott building.

The M is accessible by skyway, Minnesota’s urban architecture remedy to avoid cold and snowy weather. As you walk towards the museum and into the renovated Pioneer Endicott building, designed by Cass Gilbert and Solon S. Beman, a glimpse of the old delivery dock of the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper conjures up the history of the city. Designed in 1889-1890, the 16-story building touted skyscraper technology and telegraph communication for a growing St. Paul. The St. Paul Pioneer Press was an early tenant. Today, the multi-use building features apartments, a taproom and brewery in the basement where the horse stalls used to be, and a vibrant museum on street level. The M’s friendly and knowledgeable staff has the answers to all questions about the art and restoration projects.

During this inaugural year, the exhibition, 100 Years and Counting, will rotate artworks quarterly to showcase highlights of the museum’s 5,000 works by American artists including Paul Manship, George Morrison, Wendy Red Star, Thomas Hart Benton, Louise Nevelson, Julie Buffalohead, Wing Young Huie, and Pao Houa Her. Visitors have experienced that the well-curated show encourages more conversation and comparison among artworks, as well as an appreciation for the breadth and diversity of the collection. Planning is already underway to increase the M’s gallery space in the Pioneer Endicott building.

Twin Cities art enthusiasts understand and support that “This is our opportunity to imagine and to build a museum from the ground up that has the values of a 21st-century museum at its core—accessibility for all, intergenerational learning, community exchange, support of living artists, and responsible stewardship of a great collection for generations to come,” Executive Director Kristin Makholm said in a prepared statement. “This is the time both to honor the legacy of this historic St. Paul treasure and to break ground with new communities and new audiences throughout the metro, the region, and the state.”

Mia docents had been wondering for years, what was going to happen to the wonderful M collection. As you will see when you visit, great things have happened!

Double your art pleasure when you come to the Twin Cities and include the M on your visit with its winning combination of American art and architecture. Guided tours are provided by docents. The M is open Wednesday-Sunday. Further information can be found at www.mmaa.org.