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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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Migration matters: How art can help us grasp the growing crisis

By Tim Gihring Erika Lee’s grandfather came to the United States from China in 1918, sailing into the harbor of San Francisco. He was 16, a farmer’s son. The Chinese Exclusion Act that was designed to stop him and all other Chinese immigrants, except for students, teachers, merchants, diplomats, and tourists, had been in place 

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The art of leaving: A major exhibition sheds light on the largest global movement in history

By Tim Gihring As long as there have been people, people have moved. Left home for someplace new, for better or for worse. But there have never been so many people on the move who would rather have stayed—who have been forcibly displaced—as there are today: nearly 70 million worldwide, according to an estimate from the 

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You Were Never Here: How Alyssa Baguss captures our curious, digital relationship with nature today

Why do we care so much about the wildfires that ravaged Australia? Most of us have never been to the continent, let alone describe the ecologies impacted by the natural disaster, beyond “cute, cuddly” kangaroos and koalas. In contrast to natural disasters closer to home, we care about Australia because we feel like we know 

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A journey of quilts: How five of the famous Gee’s Bend textiles came to Mia

The hamlet of Gee’s Bend is in the Black Belt of Alabama, a reference to the rich dark soil that enabled the region’s cotton plantations and to the thousands of enslaved African Americans who worked them. After emancipation, Gee’s Bend fell into a cycle of sharecropping, debt, and poverty. A dam built in 1962 flooded 

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How climate change and colonialism are spurring mass migration: The violent roots of today’s unprecedented displacement

By Tamira Amin, Learning Innovation Fellow at Mia Forced migration and its horrors are never too far from my mind. My extended family is strung out across four continents. Couples have married and elders have been laid to rest without reunion. My parents fled violence in Ethiopia over 30 years ago and I have yet 

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A rare book and a Titanic tragedy: How a misunderstanding revealed a remarkable history

A few years ago, a curator at Mia asked the museum’s library to find a specific edition of an out-of-print book from 1902. He was preparing an exhibition on anti-Semitism and was intrigued by the illustrations in the book, called The Spirit of the Ghetto, about the Lower East Side of Manhattan when it was the 

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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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