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.

  • Generous support provided by a grant from:
    IMLS logo


Art Inspires: Kao Kalia Yang on Lucretia

He entered my room quietly. I was at my desk. He closed the door behind him. It was just the two of us. He carried a book in his hand. He said, “How are you?” I did the polite thing. We had a conversation. In the light from my desk, he was handsome, this dorm . . . Keep reading »

Minneapolis Society for the Blind tour group 1951

Once at Mia: Touching the past

The Minneapolis Society for the Blind was touring Mia in October 1951 when they stopped in front of the museum’s ancient Assyrian relief and laid hands on it. The relief, being a relief, is perfectly suited to tactile appreciation. It was carved from stone more than eight centuries BCE, one of many such panels found in . . . Keep reading »


The Mia connections behind one of this season’s most anticipated operas

On September 9, in a suburb of San Francisco, 119 people gathered at the Hong Kong Flower Lounge to dine on Peking duck, bird’s nest soup, and other classic Chinese dishes. Most of the diners were Minnesotans. Kevin Smith, the president of the Minnesota Orchestra, rose to speak. “Who would have thought that this little group from Minnesota . . . Keep reading »


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 »