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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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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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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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