Minnesota is abundant with the arts. Across the state, you’ll find vibrant museums and programming that span genres and mediums. Although the Twin Cities are the hub for arts, every corner of the state has something for all of you art enthusiasts. Keep this map in mind for your next road trip – or anytime you need to satisfy an art craving.
Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) is a fine art museum located in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis. The Institute is a public, government-funded museum that does not charge an entrance fee. Mia’s permanent collection includes more than 89,000 objects that represent the diverse cultures that span world history: the collection covers 20,000 years and reaches every continent. Such works are spread across seven curatorial departments: Arts of Africa & the Americas, Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture, Contemporary Art, Photography & New Media, Asian Art, Paintings, and Prints & Drawings.
Walker Art Center
Located in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, the Walker Art Center is a contemporary, multidisciplinary art museum. For decades, the Walker has remained one of the top centers for contemporary art in the country, proving to be an independent voice that still understands the mainstream art world. The museum’s origins trace back to 1879, with the personal art collection of lumber baron Thomas Barlow Walker. The Walker Art Center was formally established in 1940 with the support of the Federal Art Project and the WPA. The museum underwent a major renovation and expansion in 2005, designed by the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. The visual arts, performance arts, design, moving image, and new media are all genres that the Walker emphasizes.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
A partnership between the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden blends nature and art to create one of the city’s most beloved attractions. Spanning 11-acres, the garden hosts the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry, for which the city is well known, as well as more than 40 other works from the collection of the Walker Art Center. Currently, the Sculpture Garden is closed to the public for a $33.3 million renovation and will reopen in June 2017. The garden will feature work by Katharina Fritsch, Theaster Gates, Eva Rothschild, Liz Larner, Mark Manders, Sol Lewitt, and many others.
American Swedish Institute
The American Swedish Institute (ASI) is a museum and cultural center located in Minneapolis. The ASI highlights the historic role that Sweden and Swedish Americans have played in the culture and history of the United States. With a strong arts program, the ASI offers exhibition from Sweden, as well as other areas of the Nordic region, and regular performances. The ASI is located in the former mansion of Swan and Christina Turnblad, Swedish immigrants who completed construction of their home in 1908. The ornate building compares to the old world castles of Europe, blending historical architecture with contemporary culture.
The Museum of Russian Art
The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) is located in Minneapolis and is home to a significant collection of 20th century Russian Art. The museum opened in 2002 and initially received funding from private donors who had an extensive private collection of Russian art. The museum hopes for visitors to gain new and unique perspectives on Russia while educating guests on the historical significance and artistic achievements of the country. The museum is located in a renovated historic church and exhibits new shows on a regular basis.
House of Balls
One of the most eclectic public attraction in the Twin Cities, House of Balls is a strange and unique art gallery that displays unorthodox materials as works of art. For three decades, owner Allen Christian has collected and transformed found objects, such as bowling balls, plumbing parts, false teeth, headstones, and animal skulls, into original works of art. Christian is a believer of animism – the idea that when a person touches an object, they leave a part of their spirit behind. House of Balls is located in what was originally a gas station in the 1930s. Christian has retained much of the same art deco aesthetics but has added large graffiti-esque murals across the walls. Visitors are encouraged to “leave their treatise” at the intercom, which adds their voice to the looping audio played in House of Balls.
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
Minnesota Center for Books Arts (MCBA) is the most comprehensive center of its kind that celebrates the book and the various forms it may take. With the mission, “to lead the advancement of the book as an evolving art form,” MCBA hosts a wide range of events and educational programming for those looking to learn, create, or admire. Additionally, the center has book art exhibitions that rotate on a regular basis. MCBA continues traditional techniques while encouraging innovation, viewing book art as an enduring expression of culture.
Weisman Art Museum
Located on the University of Minnesota campus, the Weisman Art Museum is a teaching museum designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry. Since its inception in 1934, education has remained a top priority for the museum, aiming for the arts to be accessible to all. The stainless steel and brick building has a contemporary and striking exterior that is filled with a large collection of early twentieth-century American artists.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum horticultural garden and arboretum located in Chaska, about 30 miles outside of Minneapolis. The arboretum has more than 1,200 acres of gardens, woods, prairie, and trails, serving as the home to over 5,000 plant species. The arboretum grew from the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center, which was established in 1958. Sculptures inspired by nature, as well as the myths and stories associated with it, can be found throughout the arboretum. In addition to the numerous sculptures located on the grounds, the arboretum also includes a Sculpture Garden of 23 original works.
Rochester Art Center
With a central focus on contemporary art, Rochester Art Center offers quality exhibitions and programs through an integrated and welcoming experience. Through its exhibitions, the center aims to demonstrate the dynamic relationship between art and society. With its origins in 1946, Rochester Art Center has featured a wide range of contemporary art from a variety of background, including Israeli, Hispanic, Asian, and African American art. The center is made of two architectural forms, one covered in copper and the other covered in zinc, which are connected by a glass atrium. Rochester Art Center is a one of the major art attractions of southern Minnesota.
Lanesboro Arts Galleries
Located in the small town of Lanesboro, Minnesota (population 754), Lanesboro Arts is a multi-disciplinary art organization that has regular programming throughout the community. Supporting emerging and established artists, Lanesboro Arts has a mission to revive public spaces through community arts programming. With free youth art classes, fine art galleries, performance arts, opportunities to contribute to public art, and placemaking opportunities, Lanesboro Arts serves as a national model for empowering local communities through art.
Measuring 97,500 square feet, the Jeffers Petroglyphs are ancients carvings found on stretches of uncovered rocks found throughout the prairie grasses of southern Minnesota. Created by American Indians, the carvings depict humans, buffalo, turtles, thunderbirds, atlatls, and arrows. Although the exact ages of the petroglyphs are unknown, they’re estimated to date back 9,000-7,000 years. Archaeologists hypothesize that the purpose of the carvings either related to hunting magic, sacred ceremonies, and/or for recording historical events. The site is maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society and is open to the public from May to September.
Franconia Sculpture Park
The Franconia Sculpture Park is a nonprofit arts organization located in the St. Croix River Valley that includes a 43-acre sculpture park, artist residency program, and community arts programming. The artist residency program includes 40 artists each year, and the community programming reaches over 100,000 people annually. The sculpture park has regular tours that teach participants about art materials, techniques, ideas, and aesthetics; however, the park is free and open to the public at all times
Great River Art
With the goal of connecting creativity and the community, Great Rivers Arts serves the Morrison County Area through a range of artistic experiences. With live theater, visual art exhibitions, literary events, musical performances, and art classes, there is something for everyone. As the hub of creativity for the area, Great River Arts plays a major sole is continuing the artistic and economic health of the community.
Franklin Arts Center
Located in the former Franklin Junior High School, a local landmark since 1932, the Franklin Arts Center is a hub of artistic resources that aims to promote the arts community in northern Minnesota. The center consists of 25 live/work apartments for artists and their families, as well as 37,775 square feet of artist studios and creatives businesses. Although there was an initial hesitation that a city of just 13,000 people would not be able to fill a large school with all art-related activities, the building was filled almost immediately. The center is now a thriving space for creative and community activities.
Rourke Art Museum
The Rourke Art Museum is a fine arts museum founded by James O’Rourke. Located in downtown Moorhead in the historic Federal Courthouse and Post Office, built in 1915, the museum has a permanent collection of over 4,000 works of art. The collection spans a wide range of historical and cultural regions, including Chinese, Japanese, Islamic, West African, Contemporary and Colonial Mexico, Per-Colombian, American Indian, and contemporary American art.
Watermark Art Center
As a member-supported, non-profit organization, Watermark Art Center is focused on developing the arts in their community. With a gallery space for exhibitions, Watermark displays local, regional, and national exhibitions on a rotating basis. The organization also offers a variety of workshops, classes, and events that span artistic mediums. Founded in 1982, the Watermark Art Center is a resource for artists, art lovers, and art buyers.
MacRostie Art Center
The MacRostie Art Center (MAC) began in 1960 under the name of Itasca Art Association. The center is a nonprofit organization that encourages the arts community of northern Minnesota. The MAC supports the work of professional artists in the region, viewing art as a key aspect of a healthy community and economy. The MAC has a range of program offerings, including workshops, festivals, lectures, classes, and exhibitions to display and sell work. The MAC aims to appeal to all demographics, developing northern Minnesota into an arts destination.
Duluth Arts Institute
For over 100 years, the Duluth Art Institute (DAI) has offered visual arts programming to northeast Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin through art exhibitions and education. The institute was incorporated in 1907 as the Duluth Art Association; 25 years later, several artists from the WPA established an art school in Duluth. The two organizations merged in 1946 to form the Duluth Arts Institute. The DAI does not collect art; rather, they exhibit a continuously rotating display of solo of group exhibitions. The DAI holds many classes and workshops for all ages and often had artists on site creating work, allowing for visitor engagement.
Zeitgeist Arts celebrates the arts with the goal of building a healthy community. The organization includes the Zeitgeist Arts Café, the Teatro Zuccone performance theater, and the Zinema 2 movie theaters. Zeitgeist aims to provide a space for artists to share their work and perform without any worry of judgement or censorship, all while inviting the public to their space to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and share an experience.
Glensheen Historic Estate
Glensheen Historic Estate is a mansion in Duluth and serves as a historic house museum. In 1969, Glensheen was given to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who continues to operate the estate today. Located upon Lake Superior, the estate is built in the Jacobean architectural style, and its interior consists of Arts & Crafts, Late Victorian, and Art Nouveau styles – the furniture within has remained in virtually the same location since the completion of construction in 1908. Additionally, artwork by many notable American artists fill the walls of Glensheen. Tours of the mansion run year-round, with specialty tours during specific seasons.
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
One of Duluth’s hidden treasure, the Karpeles Manuscript Library houses historical handwritten letters and documents. David Karpeles, a native of Duluth, is the founder of the Karpeles Manuscripts Museums, which have locations in Santa Barbara, California; Buffalo, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Tacoma, Washington; Shreveport, Louisiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Newburgh, New York; and Duluth, Minnesota. Karpeles began to collect historical documents in 1978, and now the Karpeles Manuscript Library the largest private holding of original document and manuscripts.