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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Warren MacKenzie 1949 Gallery Club

Once at MIA: A master works

You can bifurcate American ceramics, like time itself, into two very different halves: before and after Warren McKenzie. Because a half century ago he turned the medium into art, despite his protests ever since that he’s done nothing of the sort. From his Stillwater studio he would turn out 50 to 200 pots a day. . . . Keep reading »

Archives_Viewing Picasso

Once at MIA: Amazed by modern art

Let’s assume this was staged. The flood lighting, the dramatic expression—it’s as though the girl had seen a ghost, not a Picasso. The Minneapolis Times-Tribune photographer shooting Harriet Johnson and Donald Knox at the MIA in 1941 had probably asked for a reaction, and got one. But even museums struggled with modern art. “Whether we . . . Keep reading »


Beautiful birthday: Exclusive designs in the Store at MIA celebrate a century of good taste

When the MIA opened, in 1915, James J. Hill used his time at the podium to admonish the museum not to “pitch the key too low”—to keep a high aesthetic standard. Arguably it has. And recently that bar has extended to the redesigned Store at MIA, reflecting the virtuosity in the galleries with some of . . . Keep reading »


Tears and treasure: How “The Habsburgs” came together in Vienna

I cried during my first visit to Vienna, in 1988. It happened in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, where there are many moving and impactful paintings by artists such as Dürer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Titian, and Caravaggio. It was the Breughel gallery that caused me to weep. It’s a large room, empty save for the walls, which . . . Keep reading »

Jade Mountain in T.B. Walker Residence and Galleries

Once at MIA: A man and his mountain

It’s now one of the MIA’s most beloved artworks: Jade Mountain Illustrating the Gathering of Scholars at the Lanting Pavilion, carved in 1784. But a hundred years ago the 640-pound sculpture was used as a table centerpiece. You could do this if you were T.B. Walker, this was your table, and you owned the jade mountain. Bon . . . Keep reading »