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Fresh perspectives on art, life, and current events. From deep dives to quick takes to insightful interviews, it’s the museum in conversation. Beyond the walls. Outside the frame. Around the world.

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Bringing it All Back Home: How Martha Rosler brought the Vietnam War into the American living room

Artist Martha Rosler wanted to bring the war home. As the Vietnam War escalated half a world away, she wanted Americans to recognize their proximity to it, and perhaps even their complicity with it. She did just that in the work that appears in “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975,” an exhibition 

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How “Family Conversations” are Empowering Youth to Take Action on Issues Important to Them

On a Saturday morning in late October, about a dozen kids and their families gathered at Mia for a discussion of civic engagement. What is it? Why is it important? And, perhaps most curiously, why are we talking about it in a museum? It’s a program called Family Conversations — a collaboration between Mia Family 

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Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay on curating this month’s Open House: Welcome Home

By Anniessa Antar Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay was 3 years old in the early 1980s when she and her family emigrated from a refugee camp in Thailand to Minnesota. Now, she amplifies refugee voices through her writing, including experimental plays that have been presented by the Smithsonian APAC, Theater Mu, and other organizations. She also serves 

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Cy Thao explains how he created his epic, 50-painting series on Hmong history—and why

In 1990, Cy Thao decided to paint the history of Hmong involvement in the Vietnam War, the secret war in northern Laos that killed tens of thousands of his people. He was at the University of Minnesota–Morris then, studying art in a small rural college town, and the timing seemed right. “The war stuff was 

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Reunited in Gold: How Two Master Portraits Finally Came Together

By Stephanie Mann In 1699, the celebrated French artist Nicolas de Largillière was commissioned to paint the portraits of the Marquis de Castelnau (Charles-Léonor Aubrey), who was a legal adviser to the French parliament, and his spouse, Catherine Coustard, who was depicted with their eldest son. Then, in the 1800s, the paintings went their separate ways. Catherine’s 

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The Grace of Graciela Iturbide: A photographer’s empathic documenting of a culture not her own

Graciela Iturbide didn’t grow up wanting to be a photographer. She was born into a wealthy Catholic family, married young, and had three children. But in her late 20s, seeking distance from domestic life, she divorced and enrolled in film school. There, she met Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo, with whom she began her first 

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Mia’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Something for Everyone from the Store at Mia

By Rita Mehta For the habit makers who make new resolutions every year—some of our favorite products to help them actually keep their promises. Cookbooks — because sometimes all it takes to start cooking again is a new recipe! Metal and bamboo bento boxes to pack a lunch. Reusable, easy-to-wash coffee cups for the daily 

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What Empathy Is—and Isn’t

By Karleen Gardner “Empathy is a squishy word,” writes Michael Ventura in the book Applied Empathy. “Sometimes it’s confused with sympathy or misinterpreted as ‘being nice.’ That isn’t empathy. Empathy is about understanding. Empathy lets us see the world from other points of view and helps us form insights that can lead us to new 

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The art of war: For some Vietnam vets, making art of their experiences was the best way to make sense of them

When Jesse Treviño was 25, he was relearning how to paint using his left hand—the only hand he still had. He started by painting a bedroom wall black. Then, over the course of two years, he turned that wall into a mural of beer, cigarettes, and pain pills — the balms of life after war. He called 

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The art of Sister Corita: How a nun melded Pop with protest in the 1960s

Of all the images in “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975,” a gritty show of anti-war art organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and now at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, some of the most appealing are by a woman named Corita Kent. One of her prints features a yellow submarine, sprouting flowers 

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