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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Worker elves or trolls? The peculiar story of the Purcell-Cutts House windows

The story of the Purcell-Cutts House windows is kind of a race to the finish line. The house was supposed to be completed in time for architect William Gray Purcell and his family to move in by Christmas 1913. The exterior construction was just wrapping up in the fall, and the house had to be sealed up before Minnesota’s . . . Keep reading »

Chinese horse

Once at Mia: The horse they rode out on

They were sixth-grade students from the old Hawthorne School on the north side of Minneapolis, on a field trip to Mia sponsored by the Junior League, and they had every right to be surprised. It was the spring of 1956, and the field trip was called Eyes on the East—at the time, Americans certainly were . . . Keep reading »


How a British painter became the father of America’s national parks

Thomas Moran came to the United States with his family when he was 7. They came from northwest England, the blackened heart of the Industrial Revolution, anchored by textile mills that employed Moran’s father and many relatives before him. Their town was among the bleakest spots: “ruinous and miserable,” according to one account, its main . . . Keep reading »

Klimt Forest Birch up close

Summer vacation with Gustav Klimt, and a Hollywood-worthy mystery

Gustav Klimt liked to vacation along the Attersee, a picturesque lake east of Salzburg, near the Austrian Alps. For Klimt, who spent most of his time painting in Vienna, these forays into nature were restorative. He rose early and painted into the evening, stopping at intervals to eat, swim, nap, or row. The locals who saw him wandering the woods or . . . Keep reading »

Meet Your America Field Trip Program 1953

Once at Mia: Checkmates

It’s difficult to know what the teacher, identified only as Mrs. L.C. Harris, was telling her pupils. That the chess set in Mia’s Charleston Drawing Room was made in China in the late 1700s? That it was carved from ivory, in a time before elephants were endangered? That the piece she’s holding was known as an Elephant Castle, . . . Keep reading »


Lee Coren on travel, the appeal of deserts, and how nature is sewn into her textiles in the Store at Mia

Lee Coren always seems to be moving. Her social media is filled with scenes of foreign cities, azure oceans, and—her favorite escape—rocky deserts. It’s hard to see when she has time to work. Yet her travels, in fact, inform her work: subtly striking, environmentally friendly handbags, backpacks, and wallets—many featuring landscapes photographed during her trips. Constructed . . . Keep reading »

Cosmic Cities_blog2

The Tao of Arthur Wesley Dow

Heading far west to paint the Grand Canyon in 1911 and 1912, Arthur Wesley Dow was, as usual, thinking about the Far East. For 20 years, Dow had applied the forms and harmonies of Asian art to small New England scenes, and now he had to wonder whether the trusty principles of Japonisme could help . . . Keep reading »


Once at Mia: The Aquatennial dines with art

Lucretia may be hungry. She appears to eye the plates of food before her with something like regret, the disappointment of knowing she will soon be leaving this world without having stuck around for dessert. The guests, for their part, don’t seem to notice Lucretia at all. They are partying. And they are in the . . . Keep reading »

Gallery 200; Hammering Man; 1985

Once at Mia: When the Hammering Man retired

For years, the Hammering Man didn’t get a break unless he broke down. He broke down a lot, actually, given the repetitive movement of his arm and hammer—up, down, up, down, day after day, year after year. His motor often wore out, and Bill Skodje, Mia’s senior preparator and exhibition designer, would have to repair . . . Keep reading »


Outside in: Linnea Oliver explains how nature inspires her jewelry in the Store at Mia

Linnea Oliver, who makes jewelry under the studio name Bird of Virtue, has a reliable way of jumpstarting her creative process: She heads to the beach. “The beach is so linear, so austere, that there doesn’t appear to be a lot going on there,” she says, “but in that sense it’s also a blank canvas.” She . . . Keep reading »