Center for Empathy & the Visual Arts

Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts

Mia is collaborating with museum colleagues as well as social scientists, artists, educators, and others to research and explore practices for fostering empathy and global understanding through the power of art and to share these findings with the field.


In our increasingly divisive world, polarized by issues regarding politics, racial inequities, marriage equality, global warming, income disparities, and immigration policies, it becomes clear that our failures to understand other people’s feelings are exacerbating prejudice, conflict, and inequality. If we wish to develop not only a more equal society but a happier and more creative one, we will need to look outside ourselves and attempt to identify with the experiences of others. This critical skill is called empathy, which, according to Roman Krznaric, an expert on empathy, “has the power to transform relationships, from the personal to the political, and create fundamental social change.”

Art museums, with their collections filled with stories of humanity from across the globe, are well positioned to play a vital role in helping people understand each other. Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) champions the power of art—and the responsibility of art museums—to spark curiosity and creativity, connect people across cultural differences, and engage our individual and shared values.

Research & Resources

White Paper
Learn more about the research goals and origins of the Center for Empathy and Visual Arts here.

Recommended Reading
Check out our experts’ recommended reading list on all things empathy and the visual arts here.

From the Field
Explore toolkits, curricula, and examples from other cultural institutions working with empathy here.

Related Press
Daley, Jason. “First Center for Empathy and Art Launched in Minneapolis.” Smithsonian Magazine. Dec. 2017

Greenberger, Alex. “With $750,000 Grant, Minneapolis Institute of Art Starts Up Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts.” ARTnews. Dec. 2017

Ross, Jenna. “Minneapolis Institute of Art gets big grant to study empathy.” Star Tribune. Dec. 2017