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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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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 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 and emblazoned with the peace symbol, alongside the slogan 

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A Leading Voice for Growing Empathy Through Art Speaks to its Promise and Pitfalls

When Mia launched the Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts, in 2017, Elif Gokcigdem was among the project’s advisors. Born in Turkey, she became a historian of Islamic art and a scholar of museums themselves before focusing on building empathy. In her 2016 book, Fostering Empathy Through Museums, she introduced the notion that museums 

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The American War: “Artists Reflect” recounts the Vietnam War from the Southeast Asian perspective

The Vietnam War defined a generation of Americans in the 1960s and ’70s, from campus protests to disillusionment to, of course, death. More than 58,000 Americans died in the conflict. But for Southeast Asians, in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the war was always different. It was longer, for one thing, having begun in Vietnam in 

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