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The Period Room Initiative
Additional support provided by The Chipstone Foundation.
Life at the Edge of Empire: North America
For North Americans living in the late 1700s and early 1800s—whether free or enslaved, Native American or of African or European descent—life was impacted by a common set of historical forces, albeit in very different ways.
Up All Night in the 1700s
In the 1700s, European cities witnessed a gradual but profound shift in daily life: people stayed up later and partied harder into the night. Many of their nocturnal soirees were private affairs, hosted in elite homes by invitation only.
Beer before Liquor: Alcohol and Its Pasts
Today, alcohol has a presence on every continent of the world, but its regional pasts are varied. This installation gestures to alcohol’s trajectory across the globe and through time, as it earned its reputation as both poison and cure.
A collaboration of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Wangensteen Historical Library at the University of Minnesota, and Tattersall Distilling that explores the history of drinking in the 18th-century Atlantic world.
The Many Voices of Colonial America
The Charleston Dining and Drawing Rooms came from the 1772 home of Col. John Stuart, who served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Britain’s southern colonies and was also an owner of enslaved Africans.
Science and Sociability in 1700s England
In 1700s England, the home was a place where genteel men and women studied and conversed about natural history; only later did science move exclusively to the laboratory, where it became a predominantly male profession.
Haunted Mia: Explore the Museum’s Spooky Tales
Ghost stories about Mia’s building, artworks, and period rooms abound, especially among Mia’s security guards who work the graveyard shift. Mia staff member Lori Erickson collected several of the best and created the Haunted Mia audio tour.
Made in China: The MacFarlane Room Wallpaper / Gallery 328
The MacFarlane Memorial Room is usually furnished with Federal style American furniture given by the MacFarlane family, to represent a wealthy New England parlor.
2016-2017 The American Period Rooms: Inside/Out
When visiting the museum’s American period rooms, Minneapolis-based photographer Anthony Marchetti became interested in the artifice of these spaces, and especially the stories of how each room was disassembled, moved then reassembled in the museum.
2015-2017 The Jane Austen Reading Room
Jane Austen, born in the south of England in 1775, remains one of the world’s most beloved authors. Her six novels, including Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813), are staples of the screen and stage, their characters as alive today as they were in her imagination.
2015-2016 Cultivated Senses: The Studio of Gratifying Discourse / Gallery 216
The sounds of birds, crickets, and a rare 17th century zither fill the Studio. Items for keeping crickets and songbirds—cages, feeding dishes, and ticklers—are presented with mounted illustrations of favorite birds.
2016 – Emmet Ramstad: Mend with Me
Mend with me was a series of participatory sock darning lessons led by artist Emmett Ramstad in four distinct period rooms during the month of February in conjunction with his MAEP exhibition.
2015 – Candlelight tour of the Period Rooms
Mia offered a special “candlelight” tour of the period rooms in conjunction with the Living Rooms project. Curators took a limited number of people through the rooms after the museum had closed and the modern lighting had been turned off.
2015 – Mushi Boshi in the Japanese Formal Audience Hall (Shoin) / Gallery 222
At an airing, items are removed from their usual storage location and exposed to fresh air in a relatively relaxed manner.
2015 – Chintz in the Queen Anne Room
On view in the Queen Anne Room is an 18th century textile that was made in India for the English market by traditional artisans skilled in making colorful cotton cloth, or “chintz.”
2015 – Globalization Juxtaposi- tion: Tissot/Chinese Textile Juxtaposition
In the pastel at left, the Comtesse d’Yanville has gathered her children in an elite French home dressed top to bottom in Chinese textiles.
2014 – Winterlights at the Purcell-Cutts House
The Prairie School-style Purcell-Cutts House was decorated for the holidays to reflect the upper-middle-class, “progressive” lifestyle of the Purcells around 1915.
2012/2013 – Mark Dion’s “Curator’s Office”
Mark Dion’s “Curator’s Office,” created for More Real, was reinstalled as a permanent collection object. Read more to explore the installation and other materials related to the installation of this unique “period” room.
2012/2013 – Supper with Shakespeare in Tudor Room
Famed food historian, Ivan Day, handcrafted a full banquet in the Tudor room, the museum’s first period room, in order to demonstrate the evolution of English banqueting.
2010/2011 – After the Revolution: Ai Wei Wei Marble Chair in Wu Family Reception Hall
In the setting of the Mia’s historic Wu Family Reception Hall, Wei Wei’s marble chair took its place alongside antique chairs. The marble chair is a poignant symbol of the continuities and disruptions of cultural tradition that permeate China today.
2010/2011 – Colonial Legacy in the French Salon: Yinka Shonibare MBE in the Grand Salon
At first glance this fancy gown seems right at home in a dazzling Parisian salon. A closer look will reveal that the dress is made not of French silk but of printed cotton, produced in Europe for the West African market.