Mia Stories

  • Mia Stories is the museum beyond the walls, outside the frame, at the lively intersection of life and art. From behind-the-scenes buzz to inspiring connections with current events, it’s the museum in conversation.

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Woman posing with Peruvian Ear Spools 1949-1950

Once at Mia: Fooled by Chac Mool

He seems so innocent, even naive, though there is a good explanation for this. Mia acquired Chac Mool in 1947 from a respected art dealer, believing he was a masterpiece of ancient mesoamerican sculpture, in the manner of other Chac Mool sculptures found in the Chichen Itza ruins in Mexico.  He became a prominent fixture at the . . . Keep reading »


Anthony Marchetti traced five of our American period rooms back to their origin. Here’s what he found and what he made in response.

Mia’s period rooms may seem like time capsules, settings preserved in a museum as though their owners have simply stepped away. But in reality they are illusions, a mix of old and new, fact and fiction. As part of our Living Rooms project, Mia commissioned Anthony Marchetti, a Minneapolis-based photographer, to visit the original sites . . . Keep reading »


Once at Mia: A masterwork at home

Sam Maslon grew up on the north side of Minneapolis in the early 1900s, when the neighborhood was a Jewish enclave. His family was poor, but he managed to go to Harvard Law School on a scholarship. He rented a room in the home of law professor Felix Frankfurter, a future justice of the U.S. . . . Keep reading »

Plaster casts

Once at Mia: The lost world of plaster casts

A hundred years ago, they were a numerous if unusual species. Starkly beautiful, strangely familiar. Of this world and yet not completely; they seemed to inhabit a parallel universe. They were, as Mia’s first director, Joseph Breck, put it in a 1914 speech, “pale ghosts of reality.” They were everywhere in Mia in the museum’s early decades, from the . . . Keep reading »

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The lightHouse, a showcase of living large on a small footprint, debuts at Mia’s Third Thursday: Art of Sustainability

In 2003, Geoffrey Warner created his first weeHouse, a prefabricated, 336-square-foot retreat for a violinist, delivered by semi to an off-the-grid site near Pepin, Wisconsin. A Dwell reader’s dream, it quickly became an icon of stripped-down modern living. He and his team at Alchemy Architects, based in St. Paul, have since built some three dozen . . . Keep reading »


Art Inspires: Frank Bures on the lobster coffin of Ghana

The first dead person I ever saw in daylight was a young boy lying next to a road in Tanzania. It was early morning and we were driving south on the country’s main highway when I saw the crows fly up out of a ditch. I craned my neck to see what they’d been eating. . . . Keep reading »


Once at Mia: When art was always in bloom

This week, the Friends of the Institute will host the 33rd annual Art in Bloom festival at Mia. It may well be 75 degrees outside. But the first AIB, back in 1983, introduced flowers into the museum after a spate of particularly long, snowy winters at a time when winter was much colder and longer in . . . Keep reading »


Girls Design the World goes to Africa

The Kenyan moonlight—serious moonlight—revealed a zebra. Then another. And another. A herd had congregated along the perimeter of Nairobi National Park. This was just the beginning of a cultural exchange between a group from Mia and our Nairobi partners in “Girls Design the World: Supporting Green Communities with STEAM,” and we were already inspired. Since . . . Keep reading »

MIA 3.6; Construction of the Tange Expansion; Groundbreaking Ceremony

Once at Mia: Hip to the new museum

By the early 1970s, Mia was getting claustrophobic. It hadn’t built any new galleries since the 1920s, and, like so much of the ’70s, was suffocating from excess. Witness the wallpaper. This photo was taken in March 1972 at the groundbreaking of the museum’s new expansion, which would open in fall 1974. A minimalist addition designed by . . . Keep reading »

Andrea S

MPR’s Andrea Swensson on mental health, creativity, and the April 13 “Imagine Wellness” event at Mia

Andrea Swensson, who hosts The Local Show on MPR’s 89.3 The Current and writes its music blog, launched a podcast last September called The O.K. Show. It explores the intersection of mental health and creativity, the emotions that artists express in music, and how music, in turn, can impact those emotions. It’s candid and conversational, . . . Keep reading »