The Minneapolis Institute of Art, or Mia, is a free art museum that also provides classes for both adults and children, interactive media programs, and public program that help to broaden and deepen its roots within the community. The permanent collection has grown from 800 pieces of art to over 89,000. Among the collection's works of art are world-famous pieces that represent the highest levels of artistic achievement. The collection spans around 20,000 years and is representative of the diverse cultures throughout the world. The Minneapolis Institute of Art includes seven different curatorial areas: Contemporary Art; Asian Art; Arts of Africa and the Americas; Prints and Drawing; Photography and New Media; Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture; and Paintings.
The galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Art have a fresh dynamism through the Department of Contemporary Art's collecting and exhibiting of artwork created by living artists. This emphasizes the relationships among contemporary art-making, diverse cultures, and historical art.
Within the Minneapolis Institute of Art's collection of Asian art are Chinese monochrome ceramics, ancient and post-Song jade, classical Chinese furniture, and ancient Chinese bronzes. There is also a spectacular collection of Miao textiles and Qing dynasty silk textiles. Several of the first pieces of art to join the Mia's collection were from Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Brunei) and South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Bhutan).
Several Thai Buddhist sculpture were donated in 1914 by Charles Freer. Sarah Bell Pillsbury Gale donated the first major piece of art from India, a bronze Dancing Shiva from the 12th century, in 1929. The collection of Southeast Asian art is now around 183, and the number of South Asian works of art is about 150. Within the Asian Art galleries are two Chinese period rooms: a Suzchou-area library from 1797 and an original late mIng dynasty reception hall. The South Asian collection's highlight is a monumental stone Yogini sculpture from 10th century southern India.
The Minneapolis Institute of art also has a collection of Japanese and Korean art, consisting of over 7,000 pieces of art that ranges from ancient to present-day. This collection is one of the top five of its kind in the country. The display space for the collection of Japanese art includes fifteen galleries and more than 10,000 square feet, making it the largest in the Western world. Among the work of art in the collection are woodblock prints, ceramics, Buddhist sculpture, works of bamboo, lacquer, and paintings. The collection is especially rich pin pieces of art from the Edo period. A teahouse and a formal audience hall are also featured to increase visitors' awareness of the relationship between architecture and art.
The department is committed to showing the public a broad overview of Korean and Japanese art. The Mia showcases its collection both by medium and chronologically, providing visitors with an understanding of the history of the objects, as well as the collected process of artistic creation. One highlight of the department is its collection of ukiyo-e paintings and prints, also called "pictures of the floating world."
The Minneapolis Institute of Art's Department of Arts of Africa and the Americas is dedicated to the creativity of Native peoples around the globe, from prehistoric times to today. For over thirty years, the department has worked to significantly grow its collection which now contains over 5,500 works of art. The collection includes masterworks of painting, sculpture, textiles, basketry, ceramic, beadwork, quillwork, shellwork, and metalsmithing from many different regions and cultures.
The Native American collection includes an unsurpassed Olmec jade mask that dates back 3,000 years and a rare 1700's Woodlands man's shirt. Other masterworks by Native American artists include finely worked gold earspools from the ancient Andes and quillwork by Jamie Okuma, a contemporary Native American artist. A Maori post figure from the 1840's, a 14-foot tall Asmat ancestor pole, and three funerary Malagan figures can be found among the pieces in the Oceanic collection. The African art collection at Mia features a carved ivory tusk and cast bronze leopard from the 18th century Kingdom of Benin. There is also a 1,000 year old wooden horse-and-rider from Djenne, as well as a ceramic portrait head from the ancient civilization of Ife.
Only a small amount of the Minneapolis Institute of Art's collection of prints and drawings are on display at any given time. The Mia's entire collection consists of about 3,000 drawings and almost 40,000 prints. Almost all of the prints and drawings are available to the public in the Herschel V. Jones Print Study Room. Works of art by some of the greatest American and European artists from the Renaissance period to the present are found in the collection.
Highlights of the collection include old master prints by Rembrandt van Rijn and Albrecht Dürer, a monotype by William Blake, a rare presentation copy of Los Caprichos by Francisco de Goya, and Jacopo de'Barbari's bird's-eye view of Venice. Other artists represented in the Prints and Drawings collection are Edgar Degas, James McNeill Whistler, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Ed Ruscha, and Erich Heckel among many others.
Twenty-first century drawings and prints are also represented in the Prints and Drawings department, including work by Julie Mehretu, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, William Kentridge, Cynthia Lin, Chuck Close, Mequitta Ahuja, Diane Victor, Carlos Amorales, and several others. The collection now reaches to other parts of the world beyond Europe and America. Additionally, there are collections with the collection. The Minneapolis Institute of Art contains a significant amount of books designed and illustrated by artists, including many from France. Many ornamental, fashion, zoological, and botanical illustration from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries can also be found among the department's collections., as well as works of art by Minnesota and regional artists.
The collection of photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Art spans from the 1860's to today. Over 800 photographers and 11,500 works of art are represented in the collection, including examples of 20th century American photography that feature the genres of photojournalism, photography, and pictorialism. The Mia has worked to expand its holdings of new media and contemporary photography from all countries since 2008. The department is dedicated to using the collection as an educational resource over the years, and the Mia has become a significant resource to the region.
The Department of Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Art was originally created to place an emphasis on metalwork, furniture, glass, and ceramics. It now includes over 18,000 pieces of art in every type of medium from Europe and America, spanning the Middle Ages to the present. The pottery and porcelain collection includes Chinese Export porcelain, 17th and 18th century English delft, and 18th century French faience.
Displayed in nine period rooms are domestic furnishings and interiors that span four centuries, including the Hôtel de la Bouëxière's grand salon from 1730. Turkish embroideries, early Italian laces, Kashmir shawls, and European tapestries also make up the Mia's holdings in this collection.
A highlight of the decorative arts collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, displayed in the Mary Agnes and Al McQuinn Gallery, is the English, American, and Continental silver. James Ford Bell, a silver collector and Mia trustee, is responsible for the basis of the collection at the Mia through his many donations, such as a neoclassical tea service, the most complete one known by Paul Revere, Jr. Highlights of the sculpture collection include works spanning the Middle Ages to 1960. These sculpture pieces include works by Sir Jacob Epstein, Constantin Brancusi, Amedeo Modigliani, Henry Moore, John Bernard Flannagan, and Henri Matisse. The Harold and Mickey Smith Gallery hold one of the most extensive Jewish ritual art permanent collection in an art museum in the United States.
The Mia is also rich in modernist design, featuring the Purcell-Cutts House, created in the Prairie School-style, by George Elmslie and William Purcell for the Purcell family. The Minneapolis Institute of Art also contains one the finest collections in the United States of material from the Prairie School. This collection is displayed in the Bob Ulrich and Jill Dahlin Architecture and Design Gallery. Another highlight of the department is the Norwest Modernism Collection which consists of almost 500 pieces that date from 1880 to 1940. In the past few decades, The Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture department has been working on growing a significant collection of contemporary studio ceramics, wood, and glass.
The internationally acclaimed painting collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art includes almost 900 American and European paintings from the 14th century to the present. The collection is notable for its concentration of masterworks, and provides a comprehensive view of both individual artists and celebrated schools. Among the Mia's first acquisitions was Deer in a Forest by Gustave Courbet, donated by James J. Hill, a railroad magnate in Saint Paul, in 1914. The museum's holdings include several French 19th century pictures, 17th century Dutch works, and Italian Baroque works. There are also several pieces of Cubist, German Expressionist works. American works of art in this collection include pieces by artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Gilbert Stuart, John Singer Sargent, and Larry Rivers.
Back to: 25 Best Things to Do in Minneapolis
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Phone: 612-870-3000
More: Things to Do in Ely, Things to Do in Red Wing, Minnesota flea markets, Things to Do in Lutsen, Things to Do in Mankato, Brainerd, Things to Do in Grand Portage, Things to Do in Bemidji, Things to Do in New Ulm, Things to Do in Saint Cloud, Things to Do in Two Harbors, Things to Do in Shakopee