As one of the largest cities in the Midwest, Minneapolis has a lot going for it, from job opportunities to great public transportation, and many city-like amenities. Additionally, the city shines for the art world, as it is a great place for artists to create and bring their creativity forth to the public. As such, Minneapolis has plenty of art venues where locals can peruse artworks hailing from the city and the state. To find out where you are most likely to catch a glimpse of the local art world, we’ve put together a list of some of the best museums and art institutions in Minneapolis:
1. Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art aims to be an inspirational institution using the power of art for this purpose. It’s doing that by collecting, preserving and making artwork from all over the world accessible to the local community. They try to preserve, document, and exhibit works of art responsibly while ensuring they stay in good condition.
The museum’s artwork acquisition process takes into account the values and interests of the local community all the while following the legal guidelines of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), the American Alliance of Museums, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the U.S. government.
2. Walker Art Center
One of the most visited contemporary museums in the country, the Walker Art Center is famous for its collections of modern art whether visual-, performing- or media-related. It has a history of over a century of existence, founded by the lumber baron Thomas Barlow Walker. It is located at the edge of downtown Minneapolis, at the junction of the city’s vibrant city core and its historic neighborhoods.
Walker’s programs intersect visual arts, performing arts and moving images, interpreted through various mediums and materials. As they embrace and explore interdisciplinarity across the theater stage, cinema, and the public spaces provided by their building and the campus.
3. Weisman Art Museum
Drawing its name from the contribution of Minneapolis native and philanthropist Frederick R. Weissman, the Weisman Art Museum has become an essential landmark for the University of Minnesota and the city.
For the past 70 years, the museum has played host to various works of art and exhibitions that are meant to be a reflection of society, history and culture. Several exhibitions are on display yearly, accompanied by symposia, educational events and symposia. The museum has gathered the work of more than fifty university departments since first opening.
4. Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery
The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery is a cultural institution celebrating the experiences and achievements of local African Americans. Ever since it opened in 2018, the museum has been highlighting its mission by promoting exhibits, programs, and events that have been putting the history, culture, and art of African Americans in Minnesota.
The museum’s logo is the West African Adinkra, Dwennimmen, a symbol that means “ram’s horns”. It is a metaphor revealing the amazing resilience and humility of African Americans as they navigated the harsh and challenging times of enslavement and discrimination. The museum is free and open to all.
5. Rosalux Gallery
One of Minnesota’s longest-running art galleries, the Rosalux Gallery registers over 20 Minnesota artists, who have received international recognition for their artistic expression. The main mission of this art joint is to offer a space that nurtures and supports the work of visual artists while allowing their creative freedom to flourish in order to be presented to the public.
Throughout the years, Rosalux has hosted the works of over 80 Minnesota artists, thus supporting their careers and helping the public to gain access to a wide palette of artworks. With the coming of the pandemic, exhibits have been available online too since the summer of 2021, when the gallery was physically re-opened.
6. Katherine E. Nash Gallery
Part of the University of Minnesota, the Katherine E. Nash Gallery is a research laboratory dedicated to the promotion of visual arts. It is honoring the legacy of the professor bearing its name, who was a faculty member in the 1960s and 1970s and who proposed the creation of a university art gallery, which materialized in 1979.
The Gallery has been an environment where visual arts thrived in relation to culture and community as they take on the human experience. It is a place where students, faculty, staff, and community can seek out educational development in the field of art.
7. Midway Contemporary Art
Founded by artists in 2001, Midway Contemporary Art is a non-profit visual arts museum in Minneapolis that focuses on promoting exhibitions, public programs, and a public research library. Exhibitions tend to showcase lesser-known Midwest artists in an effort to preserve and document their work for the public.
The Midway library contains a non-circulating collection of thousands of international titles. Reference material, artist books, DVDs, periodicals, and journals are also part of the library’s selection of materials. Both the museum and the gallery are open to the public with no appointments or membership required.
8. The American Swedish Institute
The American Swedish Institute is a museum, cultural education center, and a historic mansion all wrapped into one, where the arts explore the migration, identity, and belonging related to Swedish migrants.
As it strives to be a cultural center allowing people to connect with their cultural heritage, the American Swedish Institute is also serving the Phillips West neighborhood where it’s located, providing partnerships with the Minneapolis Public School District that feature the arts and cultural-identity curricula as well as after-school programs.
9. The Mill City Museum
Nestled on the riverfront, the Mill City Museum is a repository of flour milling machines and more. Through its exhibits, the museum traces the journey of wheat from the fields to the table. You can learn about the impact wheat milled in Minnesota had on worldwide nutrition. That’s because millers at the Washburn Mills brought a milling method that made wheat available to everyone.
Take a tour of the Flour Tower, Baking Lab, Water Lab, Observation Deck, or Ruin Courtyard to explore everything that this museum has to offer. The museum is located on the former spot of the Washburn A Mill, the most advanced flour mill in the world at the time of its completion in 1880.
10. Minnesota Museum of American Art
The M, as the Minnesota Museum of American Art is dubbed, is one of the most reputable and oldest cultural institutions dedicated to the arts. It started out as the St. Paul School of Fine Arts in 1894. Nowadays, the museum focuses on community partnerships and a co-curation model. It hosts over 5,000 artworks promoting artists from Minnesota.
The museum holds contemporary exhibitions that combine the past and the present. Also, the window galleries present art and storytelling to the public, as the M seeks to undergird American identity expressed through art.